NZ Ag Trade IsolationTuesday, Apr 3, 2001
Ratification of the Kyoto protocols seems a remote issue for NZ farmers. But moves are afoot that may
have a long-term effect on the position of particularly our meat and dairy sales to US.
President Bush has decided to default on the US undertaking to ratify the protocols and stand outside
any world agreement on 'greenhouse' emissions for the time being. Perhaps an understandable position
in the context of the new presidency with such a marginal vote.
However our Aussie mates have seized this opportunity to support the US seemingly in exchange for a
free trade agreement that includes agriculture.
Such a move has the potential to further isolate NZ from the major restructuring of trade that is being
undertaken at the moment by groups of countries.
The Singapore free trade agreement was hailed as a break through for NZ late last year but the real
breakthrough for NZ lies with an agreement with the US or Europe on free trade in agricultural product.
The potential for NZ to be cut out by Australia and the US is a looming prospect made worse by the fact
that the current Government is not in a position to renounce the Kyoto protocols because of the
'Green' component of its Cabinet.
NZ has little to trade or exchange to leverage for a US trade agreement and US farmers may be smoothed
into accepting Australian access but certainly a joint NZ agreement may not be tolerated.
It seems the Aussies devotion to their self-interest may close, more firmly, the door to NZ's aspirations
for a closer ag trade arrangements with US. It has the potential to reduce or remove the current
quota arrangements that are in place for beef, lamb and dairy products.
What are our negotiators planning or is NZ heading for a longer period in the trade wilderness as a
result of inflexible international policies that 'stick it up' that nation we mistakenly love to hate?