Trade and BarriersFriday, Mar 16, 2001
International trade is a complex subject but how it is affecting exporters is part of the general awareness
of most New Zealanders.
NZ has suffered the recent indignities of much larger nations imposing barriers on trade in a seemingly
petulant manner. Lamb to USA, beef to Korea and perhaps apples to Australia have been examples
of costly barriers erected to block free trade in New Zealand's primary products.
The speed that the EU has cried foul yesterday, when MAF closed our borders to imports as a result of
the spread of Foot and Mouth to mainland Europe seems out of step with the magnitude of the problem,
and the selectiveness of the ban.
In a reversed situation would the EU or any other country for that matter have continued to accept lambs
from the South Island if an outbreak of F&M occurred in the North Island?
World agricultural trade and particularly that which comes before the WTO for arbitration is managed
by posturing and threats from the wealthy nations pursuing their own agendas at the expense of the
poor and minor nations.
The great hope by NZ farmers for some sensible inclusion of agriculture under the WTO umbrella had seemed
realizable. But now, even with Mike Moore at the head it seems less likely that a WTO international
agreement is likely and agricultural trade will by default revert back to the skill of individual
countries to manage the trading relationships.
It is clear that the rich nations will use any pretext to protect their own agricultural producers and
will continue transferring resources from other sectors by way of subsidies and tariffs or the
erection of bio barriers to imports.
Not a good medium term prospect for NZ farmers as we are led down an isolationist track by our leaders