Environment and welfare must be central to WTO negotiations

The government’s farming adviser Sir Don Curry has called for future WTO negotiations to focus sharply on welfare and environmental standards.


Speaking at the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh today (22 June), he said the reopening of negotiations – which could start in the next few weeks – needed to concentrate on sustainability.


“One thing’s for sure – they’re going to be tough negotiations on freeing up trade.


“The reckoning is Mr Mandelson [the EU trade commissioner] will give up some more to get US and other nations around the table. Free access will be challenging for us and brings into sharp focus the global trading rules.”


Sir Don said there were very serious environmental issues which came with freeing up global trade. “At what environmental cost will this be? We need to encourage negotiations to set clear rules based on the widest interpretation of sustainability.”


But he acknowledged that wouldn’t be easy. Already countries around the world were expressing concerns such issues would provide trade barriers by the back door.


“New Zealand is not the problem here. I met a delegation from the US Senate. They firmly believe we’re using non-trade issues as barriers, for example GMOs.


“It’s not going to be easy. We have to start setting some international standards without destroying the planet. We have to do this, otherwise all the things we’re doing on climate change are going to be negated by countries who aren’t adopting these environmental practices.”


For more on the Royal Highland Show keep an eye on our Taking Stock Blog


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Farmers must stop “talking themselves out of support” – Curry

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