Ag Trade with EuropeWednesday, Mar 21, 2001
The German Economics Minister seems to be confirming Europe’s understanding that international
agricultural trade needs to be re-thought and European farm subsidies re-vamped to better match new
expectations from European agriculture.
Such a rational acknowledgement of the need for change from European leaders has been waited for by
the past generation of New Zealand farmers. The speed of the changed attitude is unexpected but the
fact that a crisis should trigger it is completely understandable.
New Zealand’s problem is that perceptions of “free trade “ differ between nations
and there is a high probability that any new regime will have equally restrictive but different characteristics.
Our Aussie friends who are successfully creating an emotional public reaction to what should have been
a pragmatic scientific decision on apple imports are currently giving us sharp lessons in the manipulative
art of non-tariff barriers.
Our leaders would be naive to believe that changes in European trade will be the bonanza that we have
waited for since the creation of the EEC in the 1960’s. It will be a double disaster if it
becomes a mechanism for the removal of the quota entry system currently enjoyed by NZ butter and
lamb and the opening of a large market to world trade in competition with a potentially competitive
Such a shift will certainly not provide NZ farmers with a cosy outcome.