free trade agreement

Published the European decision for the approval of the FTA with New Zealand. After the ratification of New Zealand, does a sustainable trade will take over?

The decision of the European Council 2024/244 of 27 November 2023 on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and New Zealand, lays down that “…Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and New Zealand (‘the Agreement’) is hereby approved on behalf of the Union…”. This decision has been published on 28 February 2024. From the other side, it is interesing to undeline that New Zealand needs to pass implementing legislation in order to ratify the agreement.  In the official web site of the New Zealand Government it is declared: “…A significant milestone in ratifying the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was reached last night, with 524 of the 705 member European Parliament voting in favour to approve the agreement. “I’m delighted to hear of the successful vote to approve the NZ-EU FTA in the European Parliament overnight. This is an important step towards the agreement entering into force,” Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor said. “The broad support for the agreement from across the European Parliament demonstrates the value of this deal to both parties. The FTA will provide a boost to the already strong trade and investment links between New Zealand and Europe. “New Zealand is also working at pace to ratify the agreement, so that our exporters can take advantage of its benefits as soon as possible. This could see the agreement entering into force as early as the first half of 2024,” Damien O’Connor said…”.

As already doganasostenibile argued the text of the free trade agreement, apart the sections on the management of the preferential origin, has two chapters on the sustainability which is-now- one of the key-factors of the European trade policy.

Indeed, there is the section 7 on the sustainable food system  and section 19 on trade and sustainable development.

In particular, the first chapter laid down that: “…1. The Parties, recognising the importance of strengthening policies and defining programmes that contribute to the development of sustainable, inclusive, healthy, and resilient food systems, agree to establish close cooperation to jointly engage in the transition towards sustainable food systems (hereinafter referred to as “SFS”). 2. This Chapter applies in addition to, and without prejudice to, the other Chapters of this Agreement related to food systems or to sustainability, in particular Chapter 6 (Sanitary and phytosanitary measures), Chapter 9 (Technical barriers to trade) and Chapter 19 (Trade and sustainable development)…” According to this provision, the development of sustainable, inclusive, healthy and resilient food system plays a central role in the structure of the trade relationships between the EU and its countepart.

Indeed, it is stated that the mentioned parties  “… recognise that food systems are diverse and context-specific, encompassing a range of actors and their interlinked activities across all areas of the food system, including the production, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transport, storage, distribution, sale, consumption and disposal of food products…”.

This statement is based on the following framework of principles:

  • food production methods and practices which aim to improve sustainability, including organic farming and regenerative agriculture, amongst others;
  • the efficient use of natural resources and agricultural inputs, including reducing the use and
  • risk of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, where appropriate;
  • the environmental and climate impacts of food production, including on agricultural;
  • greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sinks and biodiversity loss;
  • contingency plans to ensure the security and resilience of food supply chains and trade in times of international crisis;
  • sustainable food processing, transport, wholesale, retail and food services;
  • healthy, sustainable and nutritious diets;
  • the carbon footprint of consumption;
  • food loss and waste, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, must be reduced in the perspective of decrease of the adverse environmental effects of policies and measures linked to the food system;
  • indigenous knowledge, participation and leadership in food systems, in line with the Parties’ respective circumstances

The mentioned guidelines, at their turn, are linked to the followings agreements: Agenda 21; Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development of 2002; the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, adopted at Geneva on 10 June 2008 by the International Labour Conference at its 97th Session (hereinafter referred to as the “ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization”); the Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development entitled “The Future We Want” endorsed by United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/288, adopted on 27 July 2012; the United Nations Agenda “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, adopted on 25 September 2015 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/1 (“2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”) and its Sustainable Development Goals