Red & green tape costly

02/12/2008

Farmers will welcome John Key’s confirmation that our delegation to talks on climate change later this month will seek special treatment for agriculture.

But the Green Party reckons this could threaten our exports.

Mr Key said negotiators in Poznan, Poland, would argue aggressively for any targets on greenhouse gas emissions for New Zealand to take account of the significant contribution farming played in the economy.

The industry accounts for half of New Zealand’s carbon emissions. But Greens co-leader Russel Norman said the stance would undermine international efforts to reduce emissions and could threaten farm exports as other countries focused on high-emitting industries.

But as Federated President Don Nicolson found at the International Federation of Agricultural Producers: 

They too asked us why New Zealand is going down this track when Kyoto doesn’t ask for it, doesn’t require it and doesn’t expect it.  They are shocked and concerned. 

Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO, Charles Finny, confirms this in his blog Dear John with a post entitled Greens Speaking Rubbish:

One of the great myths that was put around in the last year of so is that if we don’t lead the world and have a scheme that applies to all sectors and all gases we will be threatening our agricultural exports.  We know for a fact that this is not the case.  Indeed some European Governments were arguing against us applying our scheme to agriculture on the grounds that this was too ambitious.  All that Europe was wanting was for New Zealand to have a scheme similar to Europe’s.  Europes scheme does not apply to the agriculture sector.  We also know that the rules that were negotiated for the Kyoto Protocol were far from perfect.  It is to be expected that countries will try and improve these rules.  The previous Government was very active in this space also – on land use and forestry in particular.

The sensible thing when the rules are wrong is to work to change them. The ETS as it stands would have a significant detrimental economic and social impact while doing little if anything for the environment, in fact if emitting industries are pushed off-shore it will make it worse.

If the Greens want to worry about something they could turn their attention to the  red and green tape  which is strangling food production, and is particularly problematic in the devloping world.

Environmental regulations and red tape are having a major impact on food production and security the world over despite international recognition of the precarious food supply situation, according to the head of a global farm lobby group.

Zambian dairy and cropping farmer, and president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), Ajay Vashee, told the National Press Club yesterday that farmers were increasingly being asked not just to produce food, but provide a range of ecological services to society.

He said though that this was having an impact, particularly in developing countries, on food production and the ability of those nations to trade because often they could not afford those services meaning trade would flow to other, mostly developed, nations. . .

. . . Mr Vashee said the push for ecological services and environmental regulation was particularly affecting developing countries who wanted to participate in trade.

He said environmental regulations were being pushed by developed nations which have the disposable income to dedicate to the environment.

“By virtue of having these policy requirements it is becoming a challenge for farmers in developing countries to meet these kinds of requirements.”

Mr Vashee said farmers must be rewarded for these non-food ecosystem services and it should not be taken for granted that farmers bear such costs on their own.

He said carbon markets should be appropriately designed so that farmers can be part of the solution.

Sustainability is supposed to have the economy, society and environment in balance but the ETS and other initiatives which hamper production with green and red tape create an imbalance. The people who pay the highest cost for this are poorer people and the poorest of these are in the developing world.

The new government’s review of the ETS and attempts to get special treatment are not an abdication of environmental responsibility they are a sensible attempt to make improvements to bad policy.


WTO talks fail again

30/07/2008

The latest Doha Round  of trade negotiations have failed which deals a blow to New Zealand’s hopes for better access to overseas markets.

Charles Finny of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce said the deal on the table at the WTO wasn’t perfect but everyone would have been better off with it than without it.

“For New Zealand it offered the end of agricultural export subsidies, caps on domestic agricultural subsidies, and improved market access for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and manufactures. More work was needed on services but signs there were positive that some forward movement could be achieved also. It is therefore a tragedy that a small number of WTO members were trying to unpick elements of this package.”

The New Zealand International Business Forum also expressed its deep disappointment that the WTO meeting had failed to agree on a way forward for the Doha negotiations.

“Failure in Geneva is bad news for everyone” said NZIBF executive director Stephen Jacobi. “Bad for New Zealand because the opportunity to reduce tariffs and export subsidies once again eludes us.

“Bad for the developing world because they need improved access to developed country markets to promote growth and address poverty.

“And bad for the global economy that desperately needs the boost in confidence that conclusion of the Doha round would bring”, said Jacobi.

Everyone gains from free trade and the ones who lose the most from trade restrictions are those who can least afford it.


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