NZ’s trade aims advanced at Davos meetings

A proposal to cut “trade and production-distorting subsidies” in the agricultural sector by 2030 has set out important measures to ensure a fair agricultural trading system.

Speaking after attending meetings of trade ministers in Davos, Switzerland, Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker welcomed the joint proposal from the 19 member “Cairns Group” of agricultural exporting nations, which includes New Zealand.

“These subsidies are harmful to the environment and prevent countries like New Zealand and many developing countries from competing fairly on the world market,” David Parker said.

“All countries rely on a functioning sustainable, affordable and effective global food system. For those of us who have built exporting agricultural sectors it is particularly important that we continue the work to update the WTO rules on agriculture.”

The Cairns Group members account for more than 25 per cent of world agricultural exports.

“We also welcome renewed efforts to address trade-distorting subsidies on industrial goods. This should form part of a package of measures that also address the long-standing concerns in agriculture trade,” David Parker said.

David Parker said he was very pleased Switzerland had been included as a negotiating partner to the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) initiative, joining New Zealand, Costa Rica, Fiji, Norway and Iceland.

A joint statement by ACCTS partners reaffirms the importance of developing international trade rules that support and advance climate and broader sustainable development objectives.

“Trade policy can, and must play a role in addressing the climate change challenge, and our six countries are ready to act now,” David Parker said.

Negotiations are expected to begin in March 2020.

During his visit to the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos David Parker took part in a range of sessions and met counterparts from key WTO member countries.

The meetings were an opportunity to advance New Zealand’s trade agenda before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, in June.

David Parker said New Zealand would be pressing hard for delivery at the Nur Sultan meeting on world leaders’ commitment to eliminate harmful fish subsidies by 2020.

“Both the Cairns Group proposal and ACCTS developments represent progress in advancing our strategic trade interests at a time when there is considerable threat to the rules that underpin the trading system,” David Parker said.

“New Zealand is a leading voice in global efforts to embed sustainable trade practises, and we are at the forefront of new multilateral initiatives to shape an enduring and enforceable rules-based trading system, that creates a fair, level playing field for all exporting nations.”

The ACCTS statement is available here: Trade Ministers’ Joint Statement

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