Canada to host Cairns ag ministers next year

The exact where and when remain to be announced, but Canada will host a ministerial meeting of the Cairns Group of ag exporting countries in 2011.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made the announcement at the conclusion of the 2010 Cairns Group ministerial meeting in Punta del Este, a coastal town in southern Uruguay.

“Hosting the Cairns Group is an opportunity to drive a strong and balanced agenda to strengthen international agricultural trade,” Ritz said in a release.

A spokesperson for Ritz said in an email Tuesday that details of the 2011 meeting will be finalized “as soon as possible.”

Punta del Este was the last stop on Ritz’s recent ag trade mission, which included a number of trade deals and announcements last week from Beijing.

Formed in 1986, the Cairns Group represents 19 agricultural exporting nations “with a commitment to reforming agricultural trade” and a roster including developed and developing countries.

The coalition bills itself as playing “a key role in pressing the (World Trade Organization’s) membership to meet in full the far-reaching mandate set in Doha” on agricultural trade.

Member countries along with Canada and Uruguay include Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Argentina, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, Peru, Philippines, Paraguay, Malaysia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Bolivia.

Ritz said he also held bilateral meetings in Uruguay this week with international trade counterparts to discuss “market access and outstanding trade issues.”

The government, he reiterated, is creating new opportunities for Canadian ag exporters “while standing up for key sectors and defending supply management.”

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