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Sutton Speech: Balance of Trade Publication Launch

Jim Sutton Speech: Launch of "Balance of Trade" publication, Wellington

Foreign Secretary Simon Murdoch, Director-General Murray Sherwin, Ladies and Gentlemen: Everyone in this room today is very aware that New Zealand depends on trade for its prosperity. Exports and imports are equivalent to more than 50% of New Zealand's Gross Domestic Product and more than 60% of those exports are primary products, which are potentially vulnerable to unjustified Sanitary and Phytosanitary barriers in foreign markets.

At the same time, we also want to ensure our biosecurity regime protects our indigenous biodiversity including treasured species, our land-based industries, our marine environment and the health of New Zealander s from pest-borne risks.

New Zealand therefore has a vital interest in ensuring that the rules governing international trade strike the right balance regarding those various considerations. As such, fair, consistent, science-bas ed and transparent rules for international trade give us and our trading partners great benefits and stability.

In launching this publication today I am here to stress that these objectives of fairness, consistency, scientific-basis and transparency should be reflected in the way all countries, including New Zealand, apply sanitary and phytosanitary measures in the trade of goods around the world.

Simply put, the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures means that all WTO members are required to justify scientifically the SPS measures they impose and to ensur e that any measures which are necessary, are the least restrictive to trade.

New Zealand is a major participant in SPS processes.

Officials from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry regularly represent New Zealand's interests at the SPS Committee in Geneva. The Committee provides a forum to discuss SPS issues between countries and the operation of the SPS Agreement. Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, including the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, also hold key positions in the relevant international standard-setting organisations recognised by the SPS agreement (such as the OIE, Codex and IPPC), chairing international committees, serving on expert panels and providing high level technical input.

Our scientific and technical contributions, internationally are key factors in the influence New Zealand has in such international forums. For such a small nation, New Zealand has a respected voice in the internation al SPS arena.

We have already seen how the SPS Agreement can benefit New Zealand.

Last week's announcement of the WTO's decision on apples. The WTO Appellate Body rejected Japan's appeal of an earlier decision that its quarantine restrictions on apples were inconsistent with WTO requirements und er the SPS Agreement. The dispute brought by the United States was supported by New Zealand through our substantial submissions to the Panel and Appellate Body which included key scientific evidence.

The result is great news for New Zealand's apple growers and has the potential to result in significant potential economic benefit for New Zealand and our pipfruit industry. This example show how the rules -based framework provided by the SPS Agreement provides a basis for New Zealand to challenge attempts by others to erect unjustified and discriminatory SPS barriers against our exports.

But it is also important to note that while New Zealand benefits from the SPS Agreement, we too must ensure that our regime is consistent with the rules. Our trading partners require assurances that our exports ar e safe just as we demand from other governments that the goods we import from them pose no danger to the safety of our food, our productive base, and our native plants and animals.

In this regard, the SPS Agreement complements New Zealand's domestic legislation for maintaining biosecurity and food safety. Our legislation embodies and promotes the use of science-based risk assessment that m anages the risks associated with the international movement of goods and people.

New Zealand must be able to justify scientifically, just as we expect of other governments, the measures we impose on imports. We must continue to do this given that our food and forestry producers and exporters ge nerate almost two-thirds of New Zealand's exports of goods and directly and indirectly employ hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. This could be seriously jeopardised if New Zealand were to move away from a sound, science-based approach to managing biosecurity risks.

This publication has been written by MFAT and MAF. It clearly sets out the international rules around protecting our human, animal and plant populations and explains why the SPS Agreement is so important to New Zealand.

I commend "Balance in Trade" to you as a clear summary of the benefits New Zealand receives from active participation in the SPS Agreement and the role the Agreement plays in ensuring fair and consistent rules for all trading partners.

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