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Federated Farmers' President praises WTO

Federated Farmers' President praises WTO and criticizes those stalling the TPP at Geneva Forum

The last 20 years of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have provided an objective framework on which to base our international trade and seen the organisation provide great assistance to small countries like New Zealand.

That was the message from Federated Farmers' President Dr William Rolleston, Vice President of the World Farmers’ Organisation, in his address overnight to a WTO Public Forum in Geneva.

“New Zealand is a small country, which means our political influence bilaterally can be limited. Without WTO rules, disputes are more likely to be settled on bargaining power rather than the evidence,” said Dr Rolleston.

“New Zealand supports and values a rules-based multilateral trading system which means that agriculture market access issues can be addressed and there are disciplines around the use of non-tariff trade barriers. The rules-based system has provided New Zealand with the opportunity to trade and the business confidence to invest.”

Dr Rolleston also praised WTO Agreements such as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement, which are based on science and have given New Zealand the tools for market access.
“For it is science, not self-interest, which lies at the heart of a good and fair system,” he said.

“New Zealand has used principles contained in WTO agreements, including the SPS Agreement, to form the basis of our bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreement market access negotiations. Today we trade with around 200 markets.”

Dr Rolleston also used his speech to express concerns over those stalling the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“Our wealthy developed world partners need to explain why they oppose elimination of tariffs on dairy and beef within a commercially meaningful time frame, when countries with real food security concerns like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and others have been able to eliminate tariffs on the same items within three, five and a maximum of twelve years.”

“Federated Farmers has been mystified why late comers to the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement joined the negotiations if they did not want free trade in agriculture. Our suggestion has been that they step aside, let the willing complete a high quality deal and join when they are truly ready for free trade,” he said.

“Poor quality deals can be used against you in the future so the challenge is to ensure that deals remain high quality when it comes to agriculture.”

ENDS

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