Orchardists have been cautious about celebrating the news that the World Trade Organisation ruled in New Zealand’s favour in the dispute over access to Australia for our apples.
The caution is because Australia could appeal the ruling.
However Trans Tasman reports that a government to government initiative might ensure the ruling is upheld.
The Trans Tasman Political Letter says NZ is looking for a way to
settle the apple export row at Government level, after NZ’s WTO
victory. It notes NZ may have won its case in the WTO court
against Australia’s barriers on the sale of NZ apples in the
Australian market, but no-one on this side of the Tasman believes
the battle has been finally won.
As Trans-Tasman reported earlier this week, The WTO panel has
comprehensively rejected the Aust argument, and its use of
quarantine regulation as a de facto trade barrier. Clearly the
issue should now be settled at the political level, and both
Govts may have thought it a good idea to keep the WTO report
under wraps until after the Federal election.
Trans Tasman says each Govt received the interim report at the
end of last month, and Canberra could be wary of unleashing the
fury of Aust. Apple growers in the run-up to the election.
However with a Labor Govt in power, the influence of the apple
growers mainly in seats held by Liberal or National MPs may be
less dominant. Theoretically,the Rudd Govt should be swayed more
by the interests of consumers. The NZ Govt has been looking at
how to negotiate a settlement, based on the WTO’s panel interim
TransTasman says Trade Minister Tim Groser is expected to explore
what shape a fair and final resolution could take when he talks
with his counterpart Simon Crean on the sidelines of the Cairns
Group meeting in Punta del Este early next week.
However Trans Tasman adds NZ knows from past experience, even
when the science has been overwhelmingly conclusive, the Aust
bureaucracy has always found a way to frustrate an outcome in
NZ’s favour. With the full weight of the WTO swinging behind NZ,
Aust will risk making itself a laughing stock preaching free
trade out of one corner of its mouth while it practises
protectionism out of the other.
The observation that the Rudd government may be swayed by the interests of consumers reinforces that the ban on New Zealand apples doesn’t just handicap our apple producers, it adds to the costs and limits choice for Australian consumers.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean had earlier welcomed the WTO decision.
“This is a great day for Central Otago growers who have pinned their hopes on gaining access to markets across the Tasman.
“It has been a complicated and sometimes frustrating journey to get to this point, but now that we’re here I know that apple growers will be relieved and delighted.
“I see this decision as a vindication for Central Otago growers who have argued long and hard that the Australian ban should be lifted.
“It will be a major shot in the arm for Central apple growers, giving the industry new hope, and new markets for the future.
“Access to Australia could be worth millions to apple growers in this country and has the potential to turn the industry around.”
The Australian market could take up to 5 percent of the national crop and be worth $20 million a year.
Not everyone is so positive, (Hat Tip Andrei at NZ Conservative) Ozy Mandias wants to send Aussies our rotten apples:
Deep down my real concern is that it won’t take them long to claim our apples as there own. As New Zealanders we are constantly being ripped off by our neighbours as year after year they take our best and claim it for themselves. From racehorses to food to bands to celebrities they have raped and pillaged the best of our little country and the next thing on their list will be our apples. . .
My other concern is that soon we will have nothing left in New Zealand at all. . . They say that Auckland is the capital city of Samoa. Within a few years Sydney will be the capital city of New Zealand and Wellington the capital of nothing more than a strong breeze. I hadn’t been too worried about this trend, clinging to the words of former PM Muldoon that “when a New Zealander leaves for Australia they improve the IQ of both nations”. However, I never envisaged that they would move from importing people to importing our most valuable asset, apples. I wonder if Muldoon’s quote still holds true with apples??