Potential trade barriers could impact on organic producers

7 October 2002

New Zealand organic exporters could face international trade barriers if "buy-local" messages in importing countries develop into protectionist policies.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Director of Biosecurity and Science Policy, Peter Kettle, has recently returned from an OECD conference on organic agriculture in Washington.

He says a worrying trend for New Zealand organic producers is the strong message to international consumers that buying locally produced goods is best.

"Certainly the trend is towards buying locally produced organic goods because local production is regarded as more sustainable in terms of energy-consumption used in transportation and so on," Dr Kettle says

In both Europe and America - key markets for New Zealand organic products - this could result in protectionist policies with each country responding to its own organic producers and, in many cases, putting in place policies to protect them from market forces.

Dr Kettle says while New Zealand has the advantage of an international market perception of being clean, green and healthy, this advantage could be off-set by the imposition of real trade barriers in the guise of sustainability arguments.

"At the recent Washington conference much of the focus of the attendees from the 23 countries was on economic, environmental and social aspects of organic production with the emphasis being very much at local level."

For more information contact:

MAF Biosecurity and Science Policy director

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33