16 Apr 2013

NZ pushes for international free trade farming commitment

6:31 am on 16 April 2013

New Zealand's representatives at the World Farmers Organisation general assembly in Japan this week, are on a mission to get the international farmer body to adopt a free trade policy.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills and chief executive Conor English are attending the gathering, with delegates from more than 40 farming nations.

Mr Wills says New Zealand and Australia, backed by Argentina, were able to persuade last year's WFO assembly in Rome, to agree to a draft policy on trade being submitted for discussion at this year's conference.

But he concedes that getting the organisation committed to a free trade policy will be a challenge, especially in Japan, traditionally one of the more protectionist countries.

Mr Wills says last year 41 countries attended the congress in Rome but only three of them, including New Zealand, were supportive of free trade.

He says the other 38 countries were protectionist and perhaps slightly fearful of countries such as New Zealand and Australia which could supply agricultural produce at cheaper rates than they could produce in their own countries.

Mr Wills says it won't be easy but for him success will be coming home with a fairly comprehensive free trade policy set in place at the World Farmers Organisation.