The WTO is an organisation of 153 member governments that negotiate together to liberalise international trade and establish and uphold international trade rules. Through its WTO membership, New Zealand benefits from clear trade rules that are applicable to all.
The WTO assists New Zealand in making trade deals with larger economies. With the weight of other member countries in support, New Zealand can make broader and more ambitious multilateral trade gains. The WTO also has an effective dispute settlement mechanism to resolve trade disputes between its members which New Zealand has used to protect its interests.
The Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations commenced in 2001. This Round, also known as the Doha Development Round, aims to reduce trade barriers and assist developing countries through trade liberalisation.
The major focus of negotiations at the WTO is to facilitate trade liberalisation through the opening of markets and the removal of trade barriers.
Agriculture is a major building block of the New Zealand economy. The production and processing of agricultural products such as meat, dairy products, wool, fruit, vegetables and wine typically generate around 16 percent of our annual gross domestic product and employ around 15 percent of the workforce. Agricultural products make up over half of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.
Non-agricultural goods -
Non-agricultural products (also known as industrial products) cover a diverse range of New Zealand exports. They include all manufactured goods (from textiles, clothing and footwear to steel and aluminium) as well as forest and fish products, chemicals, and minerals. Non-agricultural products made up 46% of New Zealand’s export receipts in the year to December 2005, worth NZ$14.2 billion.
Services are often described as things you can buy or sell but can’t carry. They include a wide and diverse range of activities that are key to New Zealand’s economy, from professional services, such as legal, accountancy, engineering, and medical services, to communication services, such as postal and telecommunications services, through to financial, education, tourism and transport services.
Strengthening trade rules
Another important aim of the WTO is to clarify and strengthen the rules used to govern international trade.
Trade facilitation - NZ has strong interest in negotiations that could reduce business costs.
Trade remedies - trade remedies allow governments to provide temporary relief to domestic industry from unfair competition from abroad or an unexpected surge in imports.
Non-tariff barriers - non-tariff barriers (NTBs) have a similar effect to tariffs by increasing the compliance costs of getting a product into an overseas market.
Rules of origin - a shirt sewn in Fiji from Indian cloth cut in Malaysia to an NZ pattern.
Customs valuation - without WTO rules exporters could be overcharged duty on exports.
Transparency - trade policy reviews, publication of laws & regulations add certainty to trade.
New Zealand is committed to pursuing high standards in a number of areas related to trade. Many of these issues form part of WTO negotiations, and may also at times be included in free trade agreement negotiations.