New Zealand has applauded a new global trade deal involving nearly 160 countries - but warns more needs to be done to ensure "trade-distorting policies" don't destroy the livelihoods of farmers.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said agreement on the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Bali package, designed to simplify customs procedures and lower trade barriers making it easier for developing countries to sell goods, was modest but "well worth having at this time".

The agreement, which also aims to provide better food security options for poorer countries, follows five days of intense negotiations, and more than a decade of relatively little progress for the WTO around trade talks.

Negotiations were scheduled to take four days in Bali, however were forced into an extra day when trade delegates failed to come to an agreement on Thursday, local time.


Speaking at the end of the biennial conference Mr Groser said while the outcomes provided limited direct benefits for New Zealand, "the cost of failure at Bali would have been very significant for the international trading system".

"This is a clear demonstration that the membership is interested in retaining the WTO as a negotiating forum. While these agreed outcomes are worthwhile, the major work on the Doha Development Round remains to be completed."

The Doha Round of trade negotiations address a raft of proposed changes in trade regulations, taxes and subsidies. The changes, sometimes referred to as the development round, would help level the playing field for low income countries.

Mr Groser said the Bali agreement indicated their was hope for the proposed changes.

"Now comparable flexibility has to be deployed by all major players to advance the rest of the Doha agenda.

"The Doha Agenda has considerable potential to enhance the fairness of the global trading system and to deliver great benefit to New Zealand and other WTO members," he said.

Mr Groser called on greater commitment from WTO members to address imbalances in the international trade market.

"In order to move significantly forward we must address some of the crucial challenges, in particular those around agriculture where trade-distorting policies threaten the livelihoods of farmers, and imperil efforts to achieve global food security.

"If we are to confront these problems head on, members may need to consider putting more, not less, on the table in the years ahead," he said.