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Trade reform needed in wake of global disruption

11 December 2019

The multilateral rules-based system, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO), is more important than ever. But the system is under significant stress and its rules need to be updated to reflect innovation and global disruption, says Chapman Tripp in its latest International Trade – Trends and Insights publication.

International trade expert and Litigation and Dispute Resolution partner Daniel Kalderimis said, “There needs to be an update to the rule book to address reform on new issues that weren’t part of the global trading system when the rules were written, such as digitalisation, climate change, and sustainable development.”

In this year's publication, the firm takes stock of international trade in 2019 and looks ahead to 2020 and the immediate challenges ahead.

Uncertainty and disruption are key themes in the publication, with the most immediate area of concern being the future functioning of the WTO’s dispute settlement system: as of yesterday (10 December, Geneva), the Appellate Body will cease to function because it will have insufficient members to hear an appeal. That is because of disagreements over its operation that have led the US to block the reappointment or appointment of members.

“This is an issue of significant concern for New Zealand – as a small, export-dependent country, we rely on legal rules and processes to advance and defend our interests.

“Despite the uncertainty, there were success stories and a number of positive and exciting developments in 2019. They include the conclusion of the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement upgrade, talks initiated on a climate change and trade agreement, the digital economic partnership with Singapore and Chile, and continued success on the world stage for ground breaking New Zealand companies.

“New Zealand is particularly vulnerable to global economic shifts. Fortunately, commodity prices for our key exports have remained reasonably strong to date despite global uncertainty.

“We are also an innovation hub and that gives us good reason to be optimistic. In this year’s publication we have profiled three innovative Kiwi businesses - New Zealand King Salmon, QualityNZ, A44 – successfully competing on the international stage,” added Kalderimis.

Ends

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