Turn the page on poverty

Trade in depth

  • New Zealand should not pressure Pacific countries to liberalise their economies
  • Remove the barriers that currently inhibit Pacific imports to New Zealand
  • In all trade negotiations New Zealand should support the flexibility that developing countries need to enable them to develop their own economies.

Why should New Zealand stop pressuring countries to liberalise their economies?

Oxfam believes that trade has the potential to lift millions of the world’s poorest people out of the poverty.

Developing countries should have the right to choose their own trade and economic policies to ensure that trade is actually contributing to the country’s long-term economic and social development.

Most rich countries developed their economies under high levels of trade protection, and liberalising trade at an early stage of development can actually have damaging consequences for poor communities and the economy as a whole. New Zealand, for instance, developed its now very competitive dairy industry using high levels of protection and subsidy.

In order for their industries to develop, poor countries need to be able to protect their infant industries from foreign competition through the use of trade policies that favour local industry, such as import tariffs.

Equally, many developing countries are dependent on revenue from import tariffs to fund vital expenditure on social services such as health and education, as well as infrastructure – this expenditure would be slashed if they were forced to remove tariffs as part of trade liberalisation.

The New Zealand government is putting pressure on developing countries to liberalise (or open up) their economies to trade when the focus should be on helping developing countries to make the most of trading opportunities.