Major New Zealand food and beverage exporters are urging World Trade Organisation Members to accelerate efforts to ‘fix’ its trade disputes mechanism which is currently suspended.

13 December 2019  

Organisations representing New Zealand meat, dairy, horticulture, wine, and seafood exporters[1] are deeply concerned that attempts to reach a consensus on the Appellate Body WTO have failed.  This important body which adjudicates on contested rulings over disputes between member countries is now unable to function, leaving a key gap in the enforceability mechanism of the rules-based trading system.

It is critical that WTO Members continue to support, but also to reform and improve, the multilateral, rules-based trade system to reflect the current and future needs of trade.  A stable enforceability mechanism for the rules-based trading system provides certainty and confidence for our exporters when pursuing opportunities in global markets.

New Zealand food and beverage exporters urge all WTO Members to redouble their efforts and to engage constructively in the process led by Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand to agree a pathway forward that avoids the continued suspension of the appeal process of the dispute settlement mechanism.

Engaging in international trade underpins the prosperity of New Zealand food and beverage supply chains and our rural communities that produce food for the world. It has allowed our farmers access to best-practice and technology that has in turn improved the efficiency, sustainability and quality of food production.

It has contributed to levelling the playing field and a more predictable trading environment. It is important to acknowledge the role this has played more broadly in promoting global food and beverage security and production.

New Zealand food and beverage exporters recognise that WTO and some of its functions are not without flaws and need reform. However, WTO must also be given credit for helping to drive the prosperity and growth of our global economy over the past 25 years. Without it, global trade and supply chains would be unworkable.

WTO Members must find a pathway forward to deliver a strengthened and robust multilateral rules-based system that continues to support world trade.