Government don't Opt Out of Trade NegotiationsTuesday, Apr 17, 2001
There is a problem showing for NZ farmers with our media conscious government - it is a government desperate
to only be associated with success.
The very public abandonment by Miss Clark of her responsibilities to push better agricultural trade
with Japan and replacing it with a shift government attention to tourism and education shows the shallowness
of this governments commitment to NZ's rural industries.
International market access is the most important element of the viability of NZ's pastoral based export
industries. However, with the current revision of attitudes to subsidy and tariff regimes for
agriculture in Europe and to a lesser extent US the propensity for a rapid repositioning of trading
relationships is possible.
NZ has significant quota allocations for butter (EU), lamb (EU), beef (US), lamb(US), plus a range
of other arrangements that by the fact of historical precedence and strong negotiation have given
NZ products market access often at a price premium into a controlled market.
Some of these quotas have become important givens in the higher pricing of returns to the NZ dairy farmer
such as that obtained from the UK butter quota.
If the Ag subsidising nations choose to change course, what will they expect in return? Lower priced
imports for sure.
How will that be arranged? By abandoning quotas for sure.
How will that impact on NZ producers? By reducing returns for sure.
In spite of the majority of NZ farmers believing that the abandonment of agricultural subsidies tariffs
and quotas by the protecting nations would be the answer to their prayers there is the potential
for a product returns disaster from a rapid dismantling of the existing structures..
The NZ Government has a responsibility to keep pushing for an orderly change to the existing international
agricultural trade structures, such as with Japan.
It is critical that negotiations continue at every opportunity and the Prime Minister wave the free
trade white flag because she finds the task too daunting and success elusive.
Just because it is no deal today, does not mean that it will be no deal tomorrow.