7 Sep 2012

Key urges removal of farm subsidies to free up global trade

10:51 pm on 7 September 2012

Prime Minister John Key has called on rich countries to scrap subsidies on agricultural production in a speech to global business leaders at the APEC meeting in Vladivostok.

Mr Key spoke to chief executives from the Asia-Pacific on Friday ahead of a meeting of the 21 leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation at the weekend.

He said free trade deals like the nine-country TransPacific Partnership, which includes New Zealand, reduced barriers to trade for countries that signed them, but often excluded poorer countries.

Mr Key said getting agreement on stalled world trade talks is the best way of boosting those countries' exports to richer countries' markets.

He also said getting agreement through the World Trade Organisation was the only way of eliminating trade-distorting agricultural subsidies.

Mr Key said eliminating these expensive programmes would help reduce high Government debt in the European Union, United States and Japan.

He told reporters afterwards that the Doha round of talks at the WTO could overcome problems and progress has been made.

"There's an actual deal that's sitting on the table. What's sitting outside that is really the issue of agricultural subsidies and that is the stumbling block and that's the area where progress has been made.

"But even if we continue down this pathway of regional free trade agreements, they won't deal with the issues for developing countries."

NZ keen to host summit

The New Zealand Government is pushing for the chance to hold the APEC summit in New Zealand in 2019 or 2021.

Prime Minister John Key says Indonesia, China, and other countries have or are vying for APEC hosting rights before then and New Zealand is is consulting with Chile about the bid.

Radio New Zealand understands the South American country would be due to host the summit around that time.

Asked if earthquake-hit Christchurch would be considered as host city instead of Auckland, Mr Key said the Government is concentrating its efforts on securing the event before making any decisions.

New Zealand hosted the seventh APEC summit in 1999 in Auckland.