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U.S. Statement at the WTO Trade Policy Review of New Zealand

Statement by Deputy Chief of Mission to the WTO Chris Wilson at the WTO Trade Policy Review of New Zealand

June 29 - July 1, 2015
Geneva, Switzerland

*For the Record*

I would like to thank New Zealand and the Secretariat for their work in compiling the helpful reports on trade policy developments since New Zealand’s last Review in June 2009. 

The phrase “punching above its weight” has already been used in describing small but mighty New Zealand, but it is indeed an accurate reflection of the very significant role New Zealand plays in the global trading system.  New Zealand serves as an excellent example of how the rules-based system we have developed here in Geneva and in other fora provides opportunities for committed countries of all sizes to play critical roles in helping shape global trade policy.

New Zealand’s trade policy has been driven over three decades by a conviction that open markets are the best way to promote prosperity.  It was in the vanguard of countries that reduced and eliminated walls of protection that had been erected over time.  New Zealand often did this on a unilateral basis, rather than waiting for other countries to act, by reducing barriers that impeded its citizens’ prosperity.  Over the years New Zealand has also played a leading role in the creation of strong, rules-based institutions to address barriers and open markets, on a multilateral, regional and bilateral basis. 

Since New Zealand’s last Review, the United States has continued to work closely with New Zealand to support the multilateral trading system.  We have valued New Zealand’s deep commitment to achieving the broadest possible liberalization through the DDA negotiations.  We are working closely with New Zealand in the Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations, and believe strongly that one of the best ways we can respond to the environmental challenges our world faces, is by achieving our shared goal of global free trade in environmental goods.  We were especially pleased to work closely with New Zealand on the successful conclusion of its negotiations to join the Government Procurement Agreement, and hope New Zealand’s domestic procedures for accession can be completed soon.  We welcome New Zealand’s progress toward acceptance of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and are working with New Zealand to bring the Information Technology Agreement expansion negotiations to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.  We have valued our constructive cooperation with New Zealand in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations.  We also acknowledge and appreciate New Zealand’s longstanding leadership role in pursuit of stronger WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. 

While New Zealand has been unambiguous in its commitment to the multilateral trading system, it has complemented that work with a range of regional and bilateral initiatives to open markets, dating as far back as its ground-breaking Closer Economic Relations agreement with Australia in 1982.   New Zealand was a founding member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, and we continue to work closely with New Zealand to strengthen APEC’s important regional role in opening markets, building capacity, and serving as an incubator for fresh approaches to emerging trade and investment challenges.  Since 2009, New Zealand has signed bilateral trade agreements with Malaysia; Hong Kong, China; Chinese Taipei, and Korea.  New Zealand is also negotiating a number of additional bilateral and regional agreements.  We agree that bilateral and regional agreements can be important complements to multilateral liberalization, and we encourage New Zealand to sustain its commitment to ambitious, high-standard approaches.  We also commend New Zealand’s effort to use trade to promote regional development with its Pacific Island neighbors.

The United States is now working very closely with New Zealand in our most ambitious effort yet to promote regional trade and investment liberalization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  In TPP, we are working to liberalize trade and investment on a comprehensive basis; raise standards for regional trade, including in areas like labor, environment and intellectual property; and address new and emerging issues, like digital commerce, competition by state-owned enterprises, and regulatory coherence.  The latter is an issue where New Zealand has made an especially valuable contribution, both in TPP and in other fora like APEC.  These are ambitious TPP objectives, but the 12 TPP parties are committed to them because they are the best way to open markets, deepen regional economic integration, and generate meaningful benefits for our people. 

After five years of negotiations, we are now poised to conclude the TPP.  We would simply note that New Zealand has been an indispensable partner in this effort that will not just benefit current and future TPP participants, but we believe will also contribute to a stronger multilateral system.  

With respect to domestic policies, we commend New Zealand on the policy mix that has led to sustained economic recovery, as well as its high rankings on ease-of-doing business indices.  Taking note of New Zealand’s efforts to promote innovation and diversify its export base, we commend the ongoing work to modernize New Zealand’s intellectual property regime, which has already seen some significant milestones since the last review.  Given the critical role of dairy products in New Zealand’s exports and the dominant role played by the Fonterra Group, which assumed the role of the former statutory marketing board, we encourage continued work to ensure transparency and competition in the dairy sector.

Mr. Chairman, as this brief review makes clear, we value New Zealand as a vital partner on a broad array of important trade initiatives.  We look forward to continuing to work closely with New Zealand in our collective efforts to strengthen the global trading system.  Finally, our respect for New Zealand and the role it plays here is constantly reinforced by the quality of the diplomats Wellington sends to work with us, as epitomized by David Walker and John Adank, and we wish John all the best as he prepares to leave us soon.

Thank you.