New Zealand should be carefully watching the unfolding trade war between Australia and China, says trade expert Stephen Jacobi.
“Ensuring effective arbitration of trade disputes is a vital component of the international trade system,” says NZIBF chair, Malcolm Bailey.
New Zealand and 15 other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the European Union and China are establishing an arrangement that will allow them to bring appeals and solve trade disputes among themselves.
This is in view of the current paralysis of the WTO’s Appellate Body.
“New Zealand, as a small trading nation, has an enormous stake in the robustness of the WTO dispute settlement system. We have taken on the largest traders in the world and won when our trading interests have been unjustly threatened.”
Bailey says the WTO system has been seriously weakened by the unfortunate lapse of the Appellate Body at the end of last year.
“It is good to see a diverse number of WTO members taking steps to redress the situation, but this is at best a temporary solution – what we need is the Appellate Body fully functioning again.”
Bailey says that trade disputes are likely to increase as a consequence of increasing protectionism, already prevalent before the current global health crisis. Export bans and increased tariffs on the goods required to address the pandemic are a rising concern.
“Re-starting the engines of global trade and investment will be critical in the post-crisis world. Timely and effective arbitration of disputes between economies will be needed more than ever.
We urge other WTO members to come together to build a stronger dispute settlement system” says Bailey.