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WTO Excuse Not Good Enmough Over Imports

Sorry kids we cut down the rainforest because we didn't want to offend the WTO

Green Media Release 22-8-07

The Green Party believes Forestry Minister Jim Anderton has got his priorities back to front by refusing to stop the importation of illegally and unsustainably logged kwila timber and kwila outdoor furniture because of his fears that such a ban just might be incompatible with trade rules.

"This morning on National Radio Mr. Anderton admitted that the reason he is not acting to stop the importation of kwila is because he is worried it might breach free trade agreements," says Russel Norman, Green Party Co-Leader.

"However, such action is entirely compatible with World Trade Organisation rules so long as we apply the same demands of legality and sustainability to the sale of timber and timber furniture from New Zealand.

"And, if there is uncertainty as to whether such measures are WTO compatible, surely we should err on the side of protecting the rainforests rather than err on the side of destroying the rainforests. Will we say to future generations we cut down the rainforest because we were worried we might break a trade rule?

"Mr. Anderton needs to get his priorities right. Any action we can take now to stop the destruction of the last of the great tropical rainforests has to be top priority, and moving to immediately suspend the importation of kwila is a vital first step.

"This is a government that says it wants to do something about climate change but when it comes to tropical rainforest destruction, which releases vast amount of greenhouse emissions, it spends years doing nothing and then announces it plans to consult more because it is scared of the WTO.

"The people of Papua New Guinea and West Papua, the plants and animals of the great forests of South East Asia and the Pacific, and future generations who will have to live with climate change resulting from deforestation, they all need us to show courage and stop the rainforest destruction, not hide behind hypothetical trade rule concerns."


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