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Pacific trade needs structural change, not NZ as WTO head

::For Immediate Release::
Pacific trade needs structural change, not NZ as WTO head

As New Zealand Trade Minister, Tim Groser, travels through the Pacific seeking support for his bid to become Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pacific Islands are urged to look to their own experiences and needs before offering any endorsement for any of the potential WTO contenders.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation's Campaigner, Adam Wolfenden, commented that “New Zealand has always maintained a very self-interested position at the WTO when it comes to trade and the Pacific Islands, thinking that they would be a friend of the Islands at the multilateral body would go against the history of their experiences”.

The actions of New Zealand towards the Pacific and their needs speaks for itself:
• New Zealand has been one of the most aggressive demandeurs in the Pacific Islands accessions to the WTO, often pushing for the greatest concessions against the interests of the Islands;
• New Zealand and Australia both threatened to cut funding for agriculture projects as part of Vanuatu's accession unless they would yield to their demands;
• When Fiji imposed a ban on Mutton Flaps citing the links to obesity New Zealand threatened to lodge a dispute against Fiji at the WTO;
• When Climate Change Minister, Tim Groser pulled New Zealand out of the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol, leaving New Zealand without any legally binding commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions.

University of Auckland based Professor Jane Kelsey added that "the last thing the WTO needs is an unreconstructed 'true believer' in the old failed model of trade and investment liberalisation as its new head. The WTO is still recovering from the period of the failed Seattle ministerial to 2003 when another New Zealander, Mike Moore, was at its head. Tim Groser is a much more savvy and driven version of Moore, who will talk about sensitivity to development and requiring the major powers to play by the rules - and resist any meaningful reform of the WTO that might even nudge it in the direction of a just global trading regime".

PANG and other members of civil society around the world have long asserted that the global trade framework must provide countries sufficient policy space to pursue a positive agenda for development and job-creation, and that trade rules must facilitate, rather than hinder, global efforts to ensure true food security, sustainable economic development, global access to health and medicines, and global financial stability. In order to achieve these goals, many current WTO policies must be fixed and many aspects of the 2001-launched Doha Round agenda must be changed; in addition, the basic principles and goals underlying the WTO must be overhauled.

“The contest for the Director-General of the WTO still fails to answer the key questions of legitimacy that face the WTO and the free trade ideology that it pursues, something that sits at sharp odds with the unique and dynamic realities faced by Pacific Island Countries” concluded Mr Wolfenden.

© Scoop Media

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