MIA Matters: Trade strategy refresh

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA trade and economic manager.

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) is taking an active interest in the current refresh of the government’s formal trade policy strategy. MIA trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva has been engaged in the consultations and has an update for FoodNZ.

The trade strategy refresh was announced last year by Trade Minister Todd McClay. The government has acknowledged that while the current strategy has served New Zealand well there have been changes in the trade environment since it was introduced in 1993 that need to be better reflected in New Zealand’s approach to trade.

The government is looking at four major shifts over time in New Zealand’s trade policy:

  1. Moving some of the focus from negotiating new FTA architecture to implementing and extracting the full value of the existing free trade agreements (FTAs);
  2. Strengthening focus on addressing non-tariff barriers and other ‘behind the border’ issues impacting on trade flows;
  3. Enhancing focus on issues affecting services, investment and digital trade; and
  4. Helping firms to achieve on-going ‘market success’ once market access has been secured.

The red meat sector is supportive of the government’s refresh strategy, in particular the highlight on extracting maximum value from existing FTAs and strengthening the focus on non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

The sector has strong interest in addressing NTBs, better engagement by government with industry and full implementation and utilisation of FTAs and World Trade Organisation (WTO) rights and obligations.

The WTO’s recent decision to uphold the complaint brought in 2013 by New Zealand and the United States against Indonesia’s imposition of a range of barriers imposed on agricultural products since early 2011 is a prime example of the importance of addressing NTBs.

We depend on stable and predictable market access into as many markets around the globe as possible. Enforcement of international trade rules to support trade liberalisation is therefore critical for the economic future of the sheep and beef sector, and we welcome the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel findings in favour of New Zealand.

MIA will continue to provide input into the consultation and is keen to ensure that the refreshed strategy maintains an appropriate balance between new and existing priorities. For example, it will be important to keep the trade negotiations agenda alive given recent developments with the TPP and the need for future potential FTAs, including with the UK.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (February/March 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.

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