Dec 18, 2007

Australia Delays Apple Dispute Once More

According to reports out of Geneva Australia has not agreed to the first request by New Zealand to establish a panel to consider the complaint about apple access. Australia can play this card but once. A panel is now expected to be formed early in the New Year.

The Hive welcomes this action as a sign of maturity in the bilateral relationship. We are pleased that those worried about a possible political backlash have been overruled. This complaint should have been taken years ago. Of course, if Australia had agreed to a bilateral dispute settlement mechanism being established under CER, then there would have been no need to go to Geneva.

We hope that the new Australian Government, with its huge majority, will take advantage of this mandate to have a new look at all the quarantine restrictions that have been erected to shield Australian agriculture from competition. This would be very welcome in developing countries, and would do much to improve Australia's image in Asia and the Pacific. It might also just save Australia from the ignominy of being dumped as permanent chair of the Cairns Group.