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New Zealand's trade dispute with Canada over dairy access under the Comprehensive Trans Pacific Partnership reaches a crucial stage

Rural News / news
New Zealand's trade dispute with Canada over dairy access under the Comprehensive Trans Pacific Partnership reaches a crucial stage
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New Zealand's trade battle with Canada reaches a crunch point Thursday, Ottawa-time. 

Lawyers for the two sides are appearing in person before a special panel of arbitrators and will deliver lengthy submissions. 

They will then be subject to questions from the panel, before making statements in rebuttal of their opposing counsel. 

There will be no witnesses and no representation from non-Governmental organisations such as trade promotional bodies.

Submissions from third parties such as Japan and Australia are likely to be heard, if the hearing follows World Trade Organisation patterns, but this is not certain since this is the first dispute hearing since the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was signed.   

The arbitration panel is chaired by Jennifer Hillman, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington.  Also on the panel is another law professor, Petros Mavroidis and a Canadian lawyer, Colleen Swords.

A verdict should be issued in September.  

This claim has attracted huge interest, with several countries joining as third parties, including Japan, Australia, Mexico and Chile.

Australia's submission supports New Zealand.  

New Zealand's complaint is that Canada undertook to allow sales of dairy products to part of its market under the CPTPP but reneged on the deal. It was supposed to open up its Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) to foreign competition. But New Zealand says it directed those quotas to its own producers and distributors. 

New Zealand says as a result of this process, it had access to only 9% of Canada's TRQs and was faced with paying 200% to 300% tariffs on the remainder.  

The Trade Minister Damien O’Connor has estimated losses to New Zealand of $68 million in potential sales in the first two years of the CPTPP.

In a statement early in the dispute, Canada defended its trade policies, saying it would always stand up for Canada’s dairy industry, its farmers and the country's production management system.

This system goes as far as to stipulate quantities of production.

However the statement went on to defend the system of rules based trading, which contains a potential implication that the country might abide by the rulings of the panel. 

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