Importance of the rules based trading framework for New Zealand

Joint statement – NZ Food and Beverage Exporters
Wednesday, 23 January 2019

As we approach the annual forum of global trade and business leaders in Davos Switzerland, organisations representing New Zealand food and beverage exporters are highlighting the importance of the New Zealand government’s efforts to maintain the effectiveness of the rules based trading system, led by the Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Hon. David Parker.

New Zealand food and beverage exporters hold significant concerns about the future of an enforceable rules based trading system.  If the current block in the appointment of Appellate Body judges is not resolved this year then the disputes settlement process will cease to function, rendering the rules we depend on unenforceable.  This is a grim prospect for a small trading economy like New Zealand.  The loss of enforceable rules would mean the loss of predictable access to countries when we export our goods from New Zealand.

The importance of exporting to the New Zealand economy cannot be overstated.  Around 60% of New Zealand’s total economic activity comes from trade, with importing and exporting providing 600,000 jobs. [source https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/nz-trade-policy/trade-for-all-agenda/ ]

New Zealand’s economy has thrived in the period since it undertook a large-scale removal of trade barriers and since the WTO Agreement of Agriculture and WTO dispute settlement procedures were established in 1995. 

We all have a lot to lose if countries opt to backslide towards protectionism, without incurring consequences.  Small countries like New Zealand simply don’t have the economic heft to secure favourable trading terms through unilateral action.

New Zealand has long played a leadership role in the establishment of the multilateral trading system, being a founding member of the GATT and the WTO.  As organisations representing the majority of New Zealand' primary sector exported goods, we fully support Trade and Economic Growth Minister, Hon. David Parker, and his MFAT team, in  working with other like-minded countries to find a way forward for the WTO.

It’s now been over two decades since the last WTO rules were established in their current form and there is some legitimacy to the concerns that have led to the current stalemate over Appellate Body judges.  We support a robust review and reform process, and urge all parties to support an outcome that promotes rules based trade.

ENDS

Spokespeople for further comment:

  • Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Andrew Morrison (Chairman) or Sam McIvor (CEO), Phone: 027 838 6353
  • Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) Malcolm Bailey Chairman, Phone: 021 741 165
  • Meat Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA) Tim Ritchie (CEO), Phone: 027 576 0036
  • Horticulture New Zealand Mike Chapman (CEO), Phone: +64 4 494 9979
  • NZ Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) Simon Hegarty (CEO), Phone: 021 708147
  • SeafoodNZ Tim Pankhurst (CEO), Phone: 021 674 133
  • New Zealand Wine Growers Jeffery Clarke (General Manager Advocacy), Phone: 021 477428