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Dr Barker is well known in New Zealand wine circles, having been the GM of New Zealand Winegrower’s Advocacy and Trade for 10 years from between 2004 and 2014. He is also no stranger to the OIV having been a member between 2004 and 2015, representing New Zealand as an Export Delegate. Between 2009 and 2012, he was President of the OIV’s law and economy commission.
The OIV is an intergovernmental organisation which issues recommendations on viticulture and winemaking practices. Based in Paris, with 46 members accounting for more than 85% of global wine production and nearly 80% of world consumption, it is sometimes called the ‘UN of wine’.
“Dr Barker understands the challenges and opportunities that face the organisation and the wine sector, and he has both the vision and the competence to ensure that the OIV can fulfil its role as the trusted vine and wine reference body for a rapidly changing market,” said Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters, who confirmed the nomination.
“New Zealand’s membership in the OIV gives us the opportunity to identify and influence strategic global debates in areas affecting one of New Zealand’s most successful and fastest growing export industries,” he said.
Wine is New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export, worth approximately NZ$1.7 billion in the year ended June 2017. Global exports are growing at approximately 10 percent per annum, and are expected to reach NZ$2 billion by 2020.
New Zealand’s nomination of Dr Barker for the role of OIV Director General signals our commitment to an organisation that is critical to the way wine is regulated in our key export markets, said Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor.
“The OIV plays an important role in helping to facilitate ongoing trade through establishing relevant technical standards for wine and wine products.”
The nomination has been welcomed by New Zealand Winegrowers. CEO Philip Gregan described Dr Barker as “the ideal candidate.”
Gregan added; he has deep understanding and expertise in the global vine and wine sector built on 20 years of experience.
“At a time when the global trade environment is rapidly changing, Dr Barker would bring a keen appreciation of the importance of international cooperation to the role.
“Dr Barker has been at the forefront of major technical, policy and trade developments that have supported the success of the New Zealand wine industry. He has a unique global perspective from his experience across many grape and wine producing countries and his leadership roles in the OIV and other international wine sector organisations.”
A lawyer by trade, Dr Barker came into the wine industry after working as a lawyer specialising in wine law in Australia and a stint at the New Zealand Food Safety Authority. He left New Zealand Winegrowers in 2014 to establish his own firm, John Barker Law. He is however still heavily involved in the New Zealand wine industry, as the primary external counsel to New Zealand Winegrowers and advises clients throughout the wine world.
The current Director General of the OIV, M. Jean-Marie Aurand of France, will step down from his role in December 2018, after serving a five-year term. The election will be held in July 2018, with the successful applicant taking up the position in January 2019. If elected, Dr Barker would be the first person from outside Europe to hold the role.