The successful launch of a new round of world trade negotiations at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Qatar next
week was vital for New Zealand and indeed the world, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.
Mr Sutton said trade ministers from the 142 WTO members who would meet in the Middle East city of Doha were better
prepared and more motivated to launch a new trade negotiations round than they had been in Seattle two years ago.
"I am more optimistic about the chances now than I have been previously. With China and Chinese Taipei about to join the
WTO in Doha, I think the chances of a successful launch are about 70-30 in favour of it happening."
He said any new round should include movement in sectors such as agriculture, forest products, and fish products, which
were hugely important for New Zealand.
"In the area of agriculture, New Zealand seeks substantial improvements to market access through reduced tariffs and
expanded quotas, the elimination of all forms of export subsidies and substantial reductions in other trade and
production-distorting support. "
Mr Sutton said the WTO under New Zealander Mike Moore's leadership had become more responsive to its critics and had
moved to address concerns.
"For example, issues such as the environment and labour standards are now talked about in WTO meetings. Sustainable
development has become a catchcry. However, these things should not be used as protectionist barriers that stop
developing nations from achieving greater prosperity for their citizens."
He said the elimination or reduction of trade-distorting export subsidies would help more than just the people trying to
sell more products into certain markets.
"A new WTO round addressing concerns about fish subsidies, for example, could be a win-win-win situation: a win for
nations that sell fish, because reducing subsidies would improve the prices they get; a win for the environment, because
those subsidies contribute to over-fishing; and a win for the consumer, because fisheries will become sustainable
long-term, ensuring they will have fish to eat."
Mr Sutton said New Zealand had benefited significantly from the last WTO trade round, the Uruguay Round.
"The dynamism we see in our dairy industry currently is attributable, at least in part, to the extra market access that
was negotiated internationally in the Uruguay Round."
At the Doha meeting, scheduled to run from November 9 till November 13, China and Chinese Taipei will be formally
admitted to the WTO. After that, both countries must ratify that decision in their own jurisdictions, and then a month
after that, they become fully participating members.
Mr Sutton said China's and Chinese Taipei's accession was good news for New Zealand.
The accession packages New Zealand negotiated with both economies meant significant market access and tariff reductions
for businesses exporting to China and Chinese Taipei, he said. Taken together, the benefits had been estimated by the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as worth about $100 million a year.
>From his trip back from Doha, Mr Sutton will stop in Dubai briefly. There, he will discuss potential business
opportunities for New Zealand with Dubai ministers and officials from Emirates airline.