of question-and-answer session
> Transcript of
joint press conference
> Pascal Lamy’s speeches
“Agriculture and the Environment in the Midst of the Current Economic Turmoil; Perspective from the WTO” — Canberra
Ladies and gentlemen,
After having followed your work and read your studies with great
interest for many years, it is a pleasure to finally be at ABARE!
ABARE’s work on complex agricultural policy issues, fisheries and
forestry, minerals, energy and climate change have been particularly
instructive to us all. It is think-tanks such as ABARE that allow the
WTO’s work to go forward; that help the WTO make sense of the complex
landscape of issues that constitutes its day-to-day work.
The WTO, as you know, did not succeed in reaching a final agreement on
modalities for agriculture and industry — two key pillars of the Doha
Round — at the end of last year. Such an agreement would have paved the
way for the complex, and quite tedious process, of turning guidelines
into legally binding obligations — or “scheduling” as we call it in our
And, just as importantly, it would have paved the way for the completion
of other areas of the Doha Round, such as the services negotiations, the
reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies, or trade and the environment.
These subjects would have no doubt gained steam had we been successful
last year; but, to our great dismay, agreement proved elusive.
Australia played an extremely constructive role in the negotiation,
throughout its various stages, in particular through the Cairns Group
coalition. Australia, and the Cairns Group, saw and understood the value
of the deal that was being proposed until the very end. But we did not
manage to close the gap on issues such as the Special Agricultural
Safeguard Mechanism and the market opening of specific industrial
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a financial crisis and a global
economic recession of unknown proportions. Some are already beginning to
regret the opportunity they lost last year to conclude the Doha deal.
Global output and trade plummeted in the final months of 2008, and
global growth in 2009 is expected to fall further.
Of particular note is the World Bank’s forecast of a drop in global
export volumes of 2 per cent in 2009, the first decline since 1982.
Developing countries — who are most in need of economic growth — will be
particularly badly hit, with their export opportunities fading because
of the recession in high-income countries, the shortage in export
credits, and the rising cost of export insurance. This, coupled with
reduced foreign direct investment, reduced remittances from migrant
workers abroad, and further falls in commodity prices, is likely to be a
serious strain on many of their economies.
As a veteran WTO negotiator has put it to me, rather than creating new
trading opportunities, the WTO now finds itself struggling to preserve
WTO members are concerned about beggar-thy-neighbour policies and this
is why we have switched on the WTO “radar screen”, to track measures
that countries are adopting in the context of the current crisis.
While the first indications are that there has been “limited evidence so
far” of isolationist moves, some trade measures have indeed been taken,
and are documented in the first report I produced for the membership. We
must remain vigilant, nevertheless, in particular as the crisis starts
to bite. A new radar picture will appear a fortnight from now.
But herein lies a complex issue, that few have bothered to think about,
and which many had underestimated in valuing the Doha deal. Several new
barriers to trade, in terms of increases in tariffs or in
trade-distorting subsidies, can be perfectly legal in the WTO. Why?
Because countries may not have been using, in the past, their tariff and
subsidy entitlements to their fullest capacity. But, in the midst of the
financial crisis, many are certainly contemplating doing so!
These unused entitlements, if used, could set the world economy and
world trade back several years. And it is much of these unused
entitlements that the Doha Round would have helped eliminate.
Let me clarify this picture to you further since, as I am sure you can
appreciate, it is critical to properly assessing the value of the Doha
deal. Today, countries can more than double their agricultural tariffs
from their current level, while remaining within the boundaries of their
WTO commitments. The same can be done with industrial tariffs, again
while remaining perfectly WTO-legal. Can you begin to imagine what that
would mean for world trade if it were to materialize?
But, of course, as we were negotiating up until the end of last year,
many sought a Doha accord that would deliver “substantially new trade
flows”. I do not blame them, new flows are indeed desirable. But it was
certainly unfortunate to have underestimated the value of preserving
existing trade flows! Yes going forward — over and above what we have
today — is good. But we must start by eliminating the possibility of
A recently released study by the International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI) has tried to assess the “Cost of a Non-Doha”. In a
scenario where the tariffs that are currently applied by major economies
rise all the way up to their legal ceilings in the WTO, it finds that
world trade could shrink by up to 8 per cent, reducing global welfare by
up to US$ 350 billion. I leave those numbers for all of you to
In the midst of the financial crisis and the economic recession that we
are now experiencing, turmoil in the world’s agricultural markets has
persisted. But I need not demonstrate this turmoil to you, since no one
knows better, or feels this turmoil more, than you here in Australia. I
was struck by the fact that in 2007, agriculture’s contribution to
Australia’s GDP fell by a full 10 per cent. And while the sector’s
contribution to GDP picked up again in 2008, it may have to see its rate
of growth fall once again due to the current economic crisis, and swings
in commodity prices.
But these, of course, are not the only factors involved. Drought, which
you know about all too well, and forest fires have also taken their
toll. A reminder for us all of how dependent we continue to be on
climate, despite the latest technology at our disposal, and of the
potential threats of climate change to our wellbeing. In fact, I take
this opportunity to offer my condolences to all the people of Australia
afflicted by the fires of this past month. My thoughts are with you.
Within the span of the last two years, the world has moved from a
situation where ordinary citizens were protesting on the streets due to
rising food prices to one where food prices have fallen, and
agricultural producers are the ones protesting instead.
A debate now rages on whether the factors that have created the recent
food crisis have disappeared. While the autumn 2008 report of the OECD/FAO
on the world’s agricultural outlook for 2017 argued that food prices
would shortly resume their long-term price decline, this conclusion is
debated by various research groups. Some of the latter argue that
population growth, rising demand, high energy costs, increasing pressure
on farm land and water, and climate change may all cause prices to go
the other way.
Irrespective of these forecasts, I would argue that any element of
stability that can be brought to this picture must be pursued. The Doha
Round’s agricultural package, which reduces tariffs, reduces harmful
internal subsidies that prevent in particular the developing world from
fairly competing, and which eliminates export subsidies altogether, is
no doubt worth pursuing.
Quite surprisingly, in the midst of the food crisis, we have heard calls
for “food self-sufficiency”, with some portraying import-substitution as
the answer to food security. What this forgets is that international
trade can be exactly the sort of vehicle, or “conveyor belt” if you
will, that would allow food to travel from parts of the world with a
surplus to parts where there is a shortage. In so doing, it can bring
down food prices — something which the world’s poor would certainly
thank you for.
In the Doha Round’s agricultural package, the monopoly power of
State-Trading Enterprises is under discussion. Some would like to see
these monopoly powers go, and consider them an export subsidy. I do not
intend to meddle in Australia’s domestic affairs, and note that some
change was in any case made at the end of last year, but would simply
offer the following comment. Changes to some of the practices of STEs,
in my view, are a relatively small price to pay for an economy whose
agricultural products account for about 16 per cent of its total
exports, and which would benefit tremendously from the overall Doha
Let me now turn to the environmental chapter of the Doha Round
I am convinced we must all invest in this chapter of the negotiations,
not least because it would usher in a new beginning for the WTO. This is
the first time ever in the history of Rounds of trade negotiations that
environmental issues have been so explicitly placed on the agenda. Were
these negotiations to fail, there would be little that the WTO could do
in the environmental sphere in future. Hence, the importance of making
So far, they cover three main issues: ensuring greater harmony between
the rules of the WTO and those of Multilateral Environmental Agreements;
opening trade in environmental goods and services; and reducing
environmentally harmful fisheries subsidies that deplete our oceans.
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot afford to let the environment be yet
another casualty of the financial crisis. And I would like to commend
Australia on the green provisions of its stimulus package; in
particular, I am told, the AD$ 3.8 billion that have been allocated for
household insulation and the solar hot water programme.
Were we to bring the Doha Round’s environmental negotiations to shore,
the WTO may be able to turn to much more complex issues like the
interface between WTO rules and climate change.
Australia is of course in the process of setting up its emissions
trading scheme, as are several other countries such as Japan and New
Zealand. Trade rules will need to be leveraged in the fight against
climate change, no doubt, and the sooner the better. The trade agenda
must respond to the Copenhagen agenda, and to the environmental
aspirations of the very membership of the WTO. Climate change, and the
irreversible havoc that it may wreak, cannot afford to wait.
We need to finish the Doha Round now, so we can turn to the even higher
mountains that we must still climb. I count on Australia’s leadership to
deliver these messages to the upcoming G20 leaders summit in London.
Thank you for your attention.
Transcript of question-and-answer session
Answers from Simon Crean, Australia's Trade Minister, and Pascal
QUESTION: ...Australia, we are losing
face. We're losing our children off the farms, they're not staying.
We're losing our capacity to farm and now we've got we're importing
more food than we're exporting. And I think we've got a real serious
problem in Australia with our foods committee(*) and our ability to feed
ourself as we go on.
What's happening is that we're losing our capacity. People are moving
away from the farm and selling their water off to farmers, so that land
is not going to be available to come back into production.
And I don't think we can wait until 2015. I think that too impairable
damage is happening now. Thank you.
SIMON CREAN: Well, we don't want you to wait until 2015 either
and that's why we've been pushing so hard. In fact, when we came back
into office this was the immediate priority. And I think in terms of the
initiative that was taken in Davos in January of last year, that was a
significant kick-start again to the Doha Round. You might call that when
we were meeting last time, we were meeting in the context of
skyrocketing food prices as a reflection of this imbalance, this
structural imbalance, supply and demand; and how much the world has been
turned on its head since that time.
Look, we know it's not the level playing field. But that's why the whole
purpose of these negotiations is to try and make it more level. No one's
pretending that Doha is the best outcome that we would like. But it is
achievable and it's significant, and importantly it's a platform.
But not to be deterred from the July frustration, we proceeded
immediately to conclude the ASEAN agreement. Now ASEAN is a group of
countries, is our biggest trading partner $18 billion in two-way
trade. It's bigger than China, bigger than Japan, bigger than the US.
These are the market access opportunities that we are striving to open
so that competitive, efficient productive agriculture can participate
and you can get market access.
But the other point I think is terribly important, don't just think of
agriculture and what your kids do as being confined to producing the
commodity. The services dimension of agriculture is another comparative
advantage for this country. The opportunities, whether it's in
value-added food manufacture and in the context of our dairy industry,
and the recent Chinese scare with the poisoning. Think of the potentials
if we think investment in other countries, not just sending commodities
to other countries or products to other comun... countries.
And then of course there's the whole service dimension of the
agriculture sector; land management, dry land farming, water management,
all of these things are the expertise that we've got to nurture.
Now that requires us, as Government, to invest int he infrastructure,
the broadband rollout, the technology and the skills development.
And that's what we're doing to sus... to support the sustainability of
your sector beyond the commodity base. Not moving away from the
commodity base, because we do have to concentrate on it, but doing more
with the commodity base and opening up the market opportunities, not
just at the agriculture tariff level, but the behind the border issues
that could otherwise constrain the opportunities in the services sector.
QUESTION: Andrew Stogal(*) Centre for International Economics. I
wrote down a thing that question to Mr Lamy. You said trade was going
to decline and that's and the train has basically left the station,
and that's going to happen whether we like it not, and it's true.
And really our challenge is the trade policy to make it better. And will
can trade policy make it better or worse? And the thing there, of
course, that's just holding the line, is going to be an enormous
challenge. We've seen the buy American provisions and this radar screen
that WTO is going to have is seems to have caught on. And so
yesterday's Financial Review, the bottom right hand corner, there was
the unions putting forward a buy Australian sort of program. And this is
all protectionism, it all restricts trade, it's all costly.
And part of the trouble, is and why there's no Doha deal now is, really
there's not much on the table to take it away from the table. To bring
it back to terms of these people, you know, I mean this is a country,
where here this is the world's largest producer of sheep meat. You come
from Europe. Europe is the world's largest consumer of sheep meat. Now
what's on the table is basically one extra lamb chop per person, per
Now you and I know that that's pathetic. And so there's no diagnosis in
your address in terms of why is that so poor? What is the real political
situation and why can't we change that?
So question one is really, well, what are you going to do about that?
Just another sort of forceful message to the G20 is not going to do it.
Within 36 hours of the last G20 meeting in November, Russia and India
put up to some tariffs. So even though they declared they wouldn't put
up tariffs, that isn't [indistinct].
So these messages, so, why do they need to be made, there's got to be a
So, my second question, is why is it that you don't there is another
strategy that could work and those countries that have tried this
strategy have gone to freer trade.
And that strategy is one where they've actually measured the benefits
and the costs of those trade barriers to themselves in a way that
Now one of your predecessors Oliva Long(*), put out a little policy
report on this, on trade policy transparency. And this doesn't replace
the negotiations or anything, it would supplement, it would add to it.
So my question is, why is it that you have chosen not to push that
CHAIR: Thanks Andy. Pascal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Indistinct] brief reactions to that?
PASCAL LAMY: First, and I read your piece about transparency and
I think I even wrote you a letter thanking you for this piece and giving
you a few observations.
I disagree with this premise of yours that there is not much on the
table. One of the reasons why we have a difficulty including this round
is precisely because there is a lot on the table. And any serious
research in numbers would show that dividing, by two, the amount of
duties collected worldwide is not negligible.
It's a huge package. And if you look at tariffs and subsidies, just to
focus on Australian main interests, the economic value of what's on the
table, at this stage, which need to be topped up to conclude is three
times the value of the [Indistinct] round.
So please look at the numbers before starting from an assumption that
there's not much on the table.
Second, on the G20 prescriptions, the dominations, whether or not
they're serious about their commitments are true. India raised a bit of
its tea tariff from five per cent to nine per cent, whereas their band
tariff is probably 30 or 35. So not a big sin. Okay it's more than just
keeping where it is, but not to a big magnitude.
Russia you're absolutely right. Russia happens not to be a member of WTO
yet, so the notion that they would be bound by international disciplines
has probably yet to percolate into the Russian system the way it has
percolated in other WTO members.
Now, your final point, and I know your views on this, and it's perfectly
legitimate, respectable and rational academic argument, which is that if
all countries were all intelligent they all would do unilateral trade
liberalisaton because this is what benefits their economy and their
consumers. In the ideal world of academics and science this is a truth.
It simply happens that in all WTO members, or nearly all, in order to do
that you have to go to your parliament and the number of parliaments
that would agree with the notion that the right thing to do in trade
policy is disarm unilaterally, 99.5 per cent of parliaments of this
planet will say no.
And that's the simple condundrum we're in, which is why we need
negotiations, trade-offs so that Governments, when they want to open
more their economy or where they want to discipline the level playing
field which plays nice to some constituencies and terrible to other
constituencies, they need to be able to show that overall the sum of
cost and benefits, gains and losses, is the right one. Which by the way
is not that difficult to do, because by definition if you create more
efficiencies, at the end of the day you've got more to share than the
sum of the concessions which you don't.
So that's the political reality within which we are operating. Now does
this mean and I go in new direction does this mean that the WTO, or
more precisely the WTO Secretariat could not do more in analytical work
in education, numbering, substantiating this notion that opening trade
creates more benefits than costs? You're absolutely correct on this. We
should do more. But but we need our members to give us the necessary
margin of manouevre to do that.
We don't want to be quoted on this, but just give you a fact. Three
years ago one of our members asked us to work on a study on the
consequence for textile, including trade on this planet of the
elimination of quotas. Another of our members strictly and definitely
opposed that. We remain member trader, and until and unless our members
are sort of have a wider conception of what we can table in terms of
analytical work, we have to be extremely careful.
And this is something which if organisations think things like this one
and others, and there are many good places where good people know about
good trade policy, if they can help us convincing our members that
putting a bit more of this intellectual material on the table would
serve us all, I'll be with you.
CHAIR: Thank you. On that very realistic and hard note, I think
we have to close our session. Our guests have
a sharp time frame to work with. Can you join me all in giving thanks in
the normal way.
Transcript of joint press conference
SIMON CREAN (Australia's Minister for
Trade): Thank you. Sounds like the
longest celebration I've ever had.
PASCAL LAMY: [Laughs]
SIMON CREAN: All right. Well we're here to answer the questions that you
couldn't ask us in there. So fire away.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
SIMON CREAN: Well we haven't had any indication from the US Trade
Representative because that's subject to the confirmation process and
that's I think scheduled for the beginning of next week. Until such time
as that confirmation process goes through, the ability to engage my
counterpart we haven't been able to proceed down the path of.
Position of [indistinct] and agriculture's no different than it was the
position last December. This is a matter that we continue to need to
deal with in the context of both the Congress and the Administration.
But significantly, the US had signed up to the position that we got to
in July, and from which we're trying to move forward.
Now the truth is there are still matters to be resolved. But what we're
trying to do is to get back to an engagement that builds on the existing
texts and that requires a parallel track approach.
Work at the technical level and there was important work at the
technical level between July and December and that's reflected in a
new set of texts.
There's also the engagement at the political level. That's been stalled
in part because of this transition period in the United States. But what
was significant last year at the same time these concerns were being
raised, was that the combined leadership of the G20 committed very
strongly to the importance of concluding the Round.
It's that momentum that we've got to build into the London summit. It's
that momentum obviously that we've got to engage the new US President in
QUESTION: But how
PASCAL LAMY: On the same ... sorry, on the same topic, a) I confirm that
we don't have any position of the US and we won't get that before some
time. Second, on the Farm Bureau, I mean, the Farm Bureau has always had
to balance the sort of interest of the two thirds of the US farming
system that's looking for market access, and the one thirds that's
looking for keeping the subsidies.
And we know that at the end of the day there will be less subsidies and
more market access. And that's where the crucial balance lies. What you
see in what's appeared of a bilateral policy in the piece they've just
tabled to Congress two days ago is this observation which I think is
factually correct, which is that at this stage of the negotiations in
agriculture, the US know what they pay in terms of reduction in
subsidies. Overall [indistinct], product specific caps, so this is
clear. They know what they have to offer in terms of market access. What
they don't know is exactly what they get in return, notably because of
special products in developing countries and these [indistinct] are
And this is a factually correct statement. Now then the question is
what's the consequence you draw from that? And my strong advice, and
this will be no surprise to anybody including to Simon, is that my
strong advice is that if we want to move this forward, we have to take
it from where we are. And where we are, are the December texts by the
two chairmen of those two main negotiating [indistinct]. Sorry.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
SIMON CREAN: Well I think the important thing is the momentum and the
leadership engagement. It was not just a direction to us as ministers to
meet which didn't happen, but it was the preparedness to remain engaged
to conclude the Round. I think what's going to be an important signal is
the extent to which with the deterioration in the global economic
equation the importance of trade as part of the overall solution. And
bear in mind, Doha as a stimulus in comparative terms to what the G20
has to face up to in terms of the financial sector and all of the
problems there it's been referred to as low-hanging fruit.
It's still very difficult to conclude, but in comparative terms it's
there to be plucked because we're 80 per cent of the way there, we know
the issues that have to be resolved, but we know that they won't be
resolved without the injection of the political will. But we
significantly have the framework now to inject that political will.
What we didn't have in December was the new government of the US in
place. It's still not finalised. It's the factual dimension of this that
we have to deal with. Timetables. As much as we'd like to set them, we
have to deal with time, with realities.
So I remain optimistic. I know that Pascal does as well. But simply
because we did get to where we got to in July, we know that the others
are potentially overcomeable but it won't happen without the political
will. What we've got to do is to raise the level of that political
engagement. We've commenced that process in a significant way. We've now
got to build on it. And that opportunity presents itself within four
weeks and that's what we've been talking with the PM about, quite apart
from the discussions we've had ourselves.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
PASCAL LAMY: First, the negotiations are not closed. They are going on
at technical level in across the whole agenda in Geneva. But I
recognise that, you know, what's brewing down there is not that user
friendly, especially for you, because it's very complex and these
experts usually are not entitled to take the risk to talk to the media.
So when will we go to a more media friendly frame of the negotiation? At
the moment we're I will make a judgement, and I'm not the only one to
do that, I share this with a number of colleagues that bringing 20
ministers around the table in Geneva can be conducive to crossing this
sort of pre-final hurdle. And that the odds that it works are above 60
That's roughly the sort of [indistinct] I have in mind, which is why I
did it in July and I did not do it in December. And I think I have to be
rather transparent on why. When can I do that for sure? Not in the
coming weeks. Not least, because we don't have a US administration up
and running on trade and it might be finest, and well still take some
time. Plus Indian elections, the results of which will be clear by
mid-May. So it's not the coming weeks.
What I hope, what I hope is that before the summer break there will be a
window of opportunity to bring them back to this [indistinct] it being
understood that what remains to be coped with is a small portion of the
big list we had to cope with last July. A large part of that is already
stabilised, so normally with a bit more political energy on a smaller
number of topics, normally it should work.
This being said, Simon can afford to be optimistic. I cannot, because I
cannot afford to be pessimistic and if you're pessimistic you also have
to see the other side of the coin. So I remain activistic[sic].
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
SIMON CREAN: We've been monitoring this question and so far, through EFIC, the Export Finance Insurance Corporation, that
then I'm again
seeing them this evening, I'm going back to Sydney for a meeting with
them we'd been monitoring this impact here in Australia, and so far it
is not having major impact on us.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that if liquidity availability and credit
flows are constricting because of the broader global financial crisis,
this has the ability to impact on trade flows. We can't ignore that. And
Pascal has been very active at the WTO level, and I'll let him elaborate
on this point, in terms of and he also comes from a background in the
bank of understanding the importance of this being very active in
trying to coordinate this at the global level. EFIC, of course, has been
making an important contribution.
Interestingly enough, trade finance is one of those things that is the
least risky of financing options, yet it runs the risk of getting caught
up in the broader global financial crisis.
So in one way we're not just monitoring the exercise, we're also
highlighting the fact that in dealing with the solution to the global
financial crisis, the rest of the countries, at the Finance Ministers'
level, can not either afford to ignore the trade implications.
Now a number of options have been talked about, because the countries
that are going to get impacted mostly in terms of this are the
developing countries. What we've got to do is to look at it as a global
initiative and that's what Pascal has been working very actively on.
PASCAL LAMY: Oh, I'm I've had a meeting with EFIC on Monday when I was
in Sydney, precisely to try and assess their own diagnosis and view on
this situation. Overall, we had in November a problem with risk premiums
rocketing and liquidity drying. I'll have another meeting of all this
crowd in on the 18 March in Geneva.
My feeling at this stage is that the sort of risk part is stabilising,
but we still have a big problem on the liquidity side. And, of course,
you know it's if Chinese exporter cannot find 90 days letter of
credit, the export just doesn't take place.
My feeling is that here in Australia it maybe less of a problem than
elsewhere. Why? Probably because the financial system has been
relatively more preserved than in other areas and prudent. Let's touch a
bit of wood if there's any wood around.
But the ability of the Australian financial system to provide trade
finance is probably less constrained than in other areas which, again,
is good news.
This being said, EFIC, as part of the Berne Union, is ready to try and
work on a few of these new ideas which we've tabled, together with the
World Bank president, on the idea of creating liquidity pools, notably
in this region.
QUESTION: Where will the money come from?
PASCAL LAMY: Liquidity pool you know, you've got a number of countries
in this region who have substantial reserves. And putting liquidity for
a revolving goods collateralised short-term Letter of Credit system,
it's just lending on a revolving basis with a fee that offsets the cost
of liquidity. It's probably the most un-toxic financial product you can
find on the market, is trade finance. It's simple, revolving,
short-term, collateralised. What more do you want if you're a banker
QUESTION: [Indistinct] for Landline, which is a rural program for the
ABC. And I'm just interested in your view on what happens if the next
Round [indistinct]. And what does it mean for agriculture in countries
like Australia that do believe in free trade [indistinct]?
PASCAL LAMY: Look, if the Round was not to succeed, that would mean for
Australia that for the moment the only discipline in terms of market
access or in terms of subsidies are the ones stemming from the Uruguay
Round dating from 1995. And that's true. It's a huge ceiling for trade
distorting subsidies in US, EU, Japan.
It's important entitlements for export subsidies, and it's important
tariff protection, with some tariff peaks, which were at the time
accepted as a compromise in the negotiations.
So the whole reduction of all this would not be available to a country
like Australia who in agriculture is a net winner, whichever academic
number you can look at. There can be a discussion whether it's a huge
net winner, a middle net winner, or a small net winner, but it is a net
winner. That wouldn't be available.
QUESTION: Yesterday an official from the European Commission denied that
what we have done with dairy export subsidies was actually [indistinct]
existing mechanisms. When you talk about there being little evidence of
[indistinct] so far, [indistinct] fairly narrow or fairly broad view of
what constitutes [indistinct]?
PASCAL LAMY: Look at our list and make up your own mind on whether or
not we take a broad view or a narrow view. My sense is that we do it
seriously. We track all significant trade policy changes in our 153
members. And as Russia is a member of the G20, we even add Russia to
this for the same price.
Now, this EC dairy export subsidy was spotted five-on-five in the list
we published in January. So it was part of what we signalled as a
QUESTION: Mr Crean, can you just clarify, would Australia contribute to
SIMON CREAN: Well, again, this is ongoing discussions that we have had.
What we have said is that we stand ready to take steps at home if the
tightening occurs and we want to play a constructive role in terms of
any solutions coming forward, or requests for solutions coming forward
from the WTO. That's an ongoing discussion.
QUESTION: So it's possible [indistinct]?
SIMON CREAN: Well, let's see how the discussions go.
Now, we're going to take one more question and then we both have to go
because I think we're both very pressed.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask what sort of institutional framework do
you have in mind? Is this something that will just be a one-off informal
kind of arrangement between those with money and those who need it? Or
is it does it need to be some more formal mechanism?
PASCAL LAMY: WTO has no jurisdiction at all on trade finance. We have no
mandate. It's not really in our core business. It just happens that
because of the economic crisis and because of the huge potential impact
of drying up of trade finance, notably for emerging countries, they've
asked us to sort of play a convening role, which is why we've juxtaposed
multilateral financial institutions [indistinct] banks and commercial
banks what remains of commercial banks worldwide to try and see how
improving the interface between these three groups we can ease the
So it's a sort of, you know, good office facilitating. There's nothing
like, you know, building a sort of house in stone. No, it's a sort of
tent-like exercise. If it results in more trade finance available, fine.
And, by the way, it has already resulted in regional development banks,
Asian development banks, EBRD, African Development Bank, stepping up
vigorously. And the World Bank has sort of multiplied by five its lines
of guarantee since a year, which I think is a reasonable reaction and a
good result for the time we've been spending on this. I hope more to
come in mid-March so that we can present the result of this and maybe
get a bit more momentum from the G20 in April.
SIMON CREAN: Okay, thank you very much.
PASCAL LAMY: Thanks.
(Transcripts courtesy of Mr Crean's office.)
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