New Zealand is an active member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the international body that regulates world trade. The WTO Agreements are a system of treaties that establish rules and standards governing international trade in goods and services and to which New Zealand is a party. WTO law helps to ensure that governments do not unfairly discriminate against goods and services of other WTO Members or distort international trade.
The WTO system of trade law is wide ranging, covering trade in goods and services as well as technical standards, remedies against unfair trade, and intellectual property. At the heart of the system are two key principles:
A detailed explanation of the WTO system and its law is available from the WTO website [external link].
The Trade Law Unit within the Legal Division provides legal support to New Zealand’s participation in the WTO, including the negotiations under the WTO Doha Development Round.
It also provides legal advice to other government departments to ensure consistency of New Zealand’s domestic policy and legislation with our obligations under international trade law.
The Unit is also responsible for assessing the consistency of other countries’ trade and economic measures with their WTO commitments, particularly where these measures may cause harm to New Zealand’s trading interests.
As a part of this process, the Unit leads New Zealand’s involvement in WTO dispute settlement proceedings.