2008-12-16

Very Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release ' WTO knockback is not good for the New Zealand economy'

16 December 2008

WTO knockback not good for the New Zealand economy

“Getting the WTO Ministerial Meeting back on track is the single biggest diplomatic priority for New Zealand right now. There are big stakes at play for our economy and we need to focus all of our resources into correcting what’s not happening in Geneva,” said Federated Farmers president, Don Nicolson.

“Last night’s cancellation of the WTO Ministerial Meeting, planned for later this week, is extremely bad news for New Zealand. As it looks right now, it’s a bad way to end a very bad year economically.

"After the recent APEC summit and the world economic meltdown, Federated Farmers had high hopes that finally, politicians had got the message that trade was better than stuffing US$300 billion in subsidies down the throats of inefficient businesses.

“The only good news to emerge today is that the New Zealand Ambassador to the WTO and Chair of WTO Agriculture Negotiations, Crawford Falconer, is now staying in Geneva to demonstrate that concluding Doha will benefit their economies, as much as it will benefit ours.

“Both Mr Falconer and Trade Minister, Tim Groser, represent some serious intellectual grunt and we hope this dynamic duo will get something over the line early in the New Year.

“Federated Farmers biggest concern is that instead of learning from the Great Depression, the ghost of protectionism may now be re-emerging.

“Protectionism back then turned the share market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression that lasted until World War Two. Our government needs to be wary of moves offshore to enact latter-day versions of the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

“As Mr Groser said yesterday a political fix is needed. In this we look to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The United States must be a force for good on trade. The incoming President needs to be convinced that kick-starting the stalled Doha Round is a major priority.

“If Doha saw an end to negative practices in trade and services, the value to the world economy has been estimated by the Economist magazine at US$73 billion dollars a year. A successful conclusion to Doha is absolutely essential if New Zealand is to re-enter the top half of the OECD,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

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