CIAA, the confederation of the EU food and drink industries, has called on all negotiators to maintain ambitious objectives for the Doha Round of trade talks at Hong Kong.

In a statement it noted that as regards agriculture, the draft Hong Kong Ministerial declaration is considerably less ambitious compared to the original objective of reaching full modalities in agriculture at the Hong Kong meeting.

“It is disappointing that what was supposed to be a milestone in the process of the Doha Round and lead to agriculture modalities, is now most likely only to set a work programme with definite deadlines for the completion of this round,” said CIAA president Jean Martin less than two weeks before the start of the Hong Kong ministerial conference.

He also recalled the food and drink industry’s commitment to the multilateral approach which should provide for clear rules and disciplines in agricultural policies and allow industry to successfully compete on internal and external food and drink markets.

Acknowledging the constructive and flexible approach that the EU has demonstrated, CIAA supports efforts from all negotiating partners to actively seek addressing outstanding issues in view of bridging the gaps in members’ positions.

For CIAA, it is essential that a comprehensive set of rules in agricultural trade are negotiated, leading to a balanced and coherent agreement throughout the three pillars of the negotiation.

CIAA warned of attempts to agree on advance commitments on a few elements of the agriculture dossier without evidence that essential other aspects of the agricultural negotiations are effectively addressed. For example, it would not be acceptable to agree on an end date for the phasing out of export subsidies if no agreement has been reached on how to address and discipline the other main export support instruments.