Major New Zealand food and beverage exporters are urging World Trade Organisation members to accelerate efforts to "fix" its trade disputes mechanism which is currently suspended.

Organisations representing New Zealand meat, dairy, horticulture, wine, and seafood exporters released a statement today saying they were deeply concerned that attempts to reach a consensus on the Appellate Body WTO had failed.

The Appellate Body adjudicates on contested rulings over disputes between member countries and was now unable to function. This left a key gap in the enforceability mechanism of the rules-based trading system.

Exporters said it was critical that WTO members continued to support, but also to reform and improve, the multilateral, rules-based trade system to reflect the current and future needs of trade.

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The statement went on to say a stable enforceability mechanism for the rules-based trading system provided certainty and confidence for New Zealand exporters when pursuing opportunities in global markets.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie. Photo / Supplied
Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand food and beverage exporters urged all WTO members to redouble their efforts and to engage constructively in the process led by Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand to agree a pathway forward that avoided the continued suspension of the appeal process of the dispute settlement mechanism.

Engaging in international trade underpinned the prosperity of New Zealand food and beverage supply chains and rural communities that produce food for the world said exporters.

It had allowed New Zealand farmers access to best-practice and technology that had in turn improved the efficiency, sustainability and quality of food production.

It had contributed to levelling the playing field and a more predictable trading environment.

It was important to acknowledge the role this has played more broadly in promoting global food and beverage security and production.

New Zealand food and beverage exporters recognised that WTO and some of its functions are not without flaws and need reform.

Chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sam McIvor. Photo / Supplied
Chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sam McIvor. Photo / Supplied

However, they said the WTO must also be given credit for helping to drive the prosperity and growth of the global economy over the past 25 years.

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Without it, global trade and supply chains would be unworkable.

WTO members must find a pathway forward to deliver a strengthened and robust multilateral rules-based system that continues to support world trade.

The statement was made on behalf of these spokespeople for New Zealand's food and beverage exporters: Tim Ritchie - Meat Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA); Sam McIvor - Beef + Lamb New Zealand; Kimberly Crewther - Dairy companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ); Jeffery Clarke - New Zealand Wine Growers; Lesley Hamilton - SeafoodNZ; Simon Hegarty - NZ Horticulture Export Authority (HEA).