The NZ-EU focus is on World Trade Organisation agriculture, non-tariff trade barriers (NTBs) and the proposed free trade agreement (FTA)
Trade Minister Todd McClay and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström have agreed on the importance of working in the WTO towards reducing NTBs, addressing harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to over fishing and the reform of domestic support in agriculture.
“Commissioner Malmström and I are committed to progressing these important issues in Geneva as part of preparations for the next WTO Ministerial Conference in 2017,” says McClay.
The discussion took place in Oslo, Norway this weekend in advance of the WTO mini-ministerial meeting. Potential outcomes for the 11th WTO meeting, due to be held in Buenos Aires in late 2017, were on the agenda.
“Consensus is developing amongst some WTO members on these issues, which are significant priorities for New Zealand. Much work remains, however, before a credible outcome can be expected.
“For New Zealand, NTBs and domestic support in agriculture remain issues that distort trade – and therefore need to be dealt with. With agreement to remove agricultural export subsidies at the end of last year we’ve seen some progress, however my strongly held view is that much more must be done. This can only be properly addressed in the WTO.
“I welcome New Zealand and the European Union working together in the WTO and in continuing to work together to strengthen our trading relationship.
“The Commissioner confirmed to me that EU progress towards a free trade agreement with New Zealand remains on track and that she did not expect Brexit to be an obstacle to the launch of negotiations.
“We have recommitted to work constructively together towards the launch of negotiations,” the Minister says.
Two-way trade between NZ and the EU is around $20 billion each year. This includes $5.5 billion of trade with the United Kingdom.
The meeting was the fifth for McClay with Malmström since he became Trade Minister. McClay was also travelling to Portugal to discuss the NZ-EU FTA and bilateral issues with Portuguese Ministerial counterparts and to meet industry leaders. He was the first New Zealand Minister to visit Portugal since 2010.