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Monday, August 9, 2010

The WTO finds in favour of NZ in its 89 year apple dispute with Australia...

apple, pears and Mr RuddImage by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr
New Zealand has finally won a historic victory over Australia - and its not on a sports field either. The WTO -  the World Trade organisation,  has come out in favour of NZ in the 89 year old apple  dispute. An overnight decision by the WTO was heavily in New Zealand's favour. the NZ Trade Minister,Tim Groser said to the media.

Australia could, and may use the dispute for political reasons during the last couple of weeks of their election campaign, and appeal against the WTO decision. They could battle it out in marginal Queensland seats, where the apple lobby is the strongest.

The WTO ruling found in favour of NZ on all 16 measures it raised before the international trade disputes body.

While it opened the door for a potential $30 million market for NZ apples, it was by no means the biggest market for NZ - representing only 5% of its market. Actually the dispute was of more significance internationally for NZ - a loss at the WTO could have seen other export market doors closed as well.. But that wasn't the case and any Australian appeal won't have too much  future effect.

The whole opposition to NZ exports into Australia was built on rather rather dubious premise that NZ apples would be the carriers of two diseases not found in Australia - fireblight and European canker - and a pest, the leaf curling midge.

Despite the fact that these diseases are not present in NZ either, the WTO panel found that apples washed, polished,wrapped and packed could not be carriers.

It has been obvious that Australian opposition over the years was based on economics - they just didn't want to compete wih NZ exports. New Zealand would actually be able to provide a couple of types of apples - Kiwi Breaburn and Pacific  Rose for instance. NZ has never been in favour of a price war with Australian growers, but just wanted to work with them to develop and expand  the market.

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