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Nz’s Trade Leadership Vital, Say Major Food Exporters

Maintaining critical trading relationships and opening and strengthening markets must remain top of mind issues as New Zealand confronts the Covid-19 crisis, major food exporters have advised the Government.

In a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Ministers, eleven trade organisations representing the largest part of New Zealand’s food export effort have outlined their support for the Government’s continuing trade push.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Malcolm Bailey, Chair of the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) said there was growing concern that some countries were resorting to ‘beggar thy neighbour’ policies such as imposing export restrictions on food as well as medical products.

“These measures have been proven to be short-sighted and counterproductive, as they distort efficient markets and disincentivise investment in production and innovation. They also threaten food security and increase market volatility. As food producers and exporters, we are also very concerned to see major food producing countries increasing subsidies, price interventions and other measures that will inevitably exacerbate the effect of the crisis on others, and hamper recovery”.

Mr Bailey said international trade, underpinned by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, would have a vital role in the world-wide economic recovery from Covid-19 and providing food security, especially for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Mr Bailey praised the Government’s efforts in addressing the current health crisis “which will have enhanced New Zealand’s credibility and reputation as a trustworthy member of the global community, and as a trusted provider of safe, nutritious and sustainable food”.

“We already have a high standing on global trade issues through our trade policies and our international leadership over many decades. We believe New Zealand is well-placed to show leadership in upholding the rules-based trading system and starting a serious global conversation on tackling the trade distortions and discriminatory policies that stand in the way of food security, global recovery and future prosperity”.

Mr Bailey urged governments to resist any fleeting attraction to intervene in food trade in the current crisis, with distorting barriers and subsidies, which would damaging to the subsequent world economic recovery.

“The lesson from previous global recessions is that recovery of the world economy will require trade to expand again and that international cooperation on trade policy will be vital. All New Zealand’s trade relationships are of value in this critical time and as major food producers and exporters we stand ready to work with the Government to demonstrate New Zealand’s trade leadership” concluded Mr Bailey.

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