Sustainable trade initiative for New Zealand exporters
Globally, general concerns for sustainable development have been expressed through the purchasing preferences of governments, corporate and individual consumers for goods that demonstrate sound environmental and social standards. Compliance with these standards (of which the most common are in environmental management, energy efficiency, health and safety, fisheries and forestry stewardship, and labour) have become both a requirement for market access and a brand reputation issue for companies.With increasing understanding about the links between trade, the environment and sustainable development, new environmental- and social-related trade requirements emerge every day (not only driven by international decisions but also by national ones, including demands of retailers and traders). In this complex situation, it is becoming increasingly evident that for New Zealand businesses to maintain and consolidate their export performance they need to be at the forefront of the sustainable trade debate. No only do exporters need to be informed about current market requirements but also they need to anticipate future trends and employ timely and cost-effective production and trade practices that demonstrate environmental and social responsibility.
A mechanism for sharing information and providing support on sustainable trade issues
New Zealand’s large exporters clearly do investigate and respond to challenges relevant to their products and services. Many leading exporters have already moved to more sustainable patterns of production thereby capturing a greater share of value-added international trade. However, there is no specific resource for exporters that provides support focused entirely on sustainability issues, and no mechanism for sharing the learning about these issues with new and emerging exporters.
An initiative to promote sustainable trade
This initiative aims to support new and emerging exporters by:
- Increasing the understanding and knowledge of producers and exporters about sustainable trade issues and the implications of overseas policy and regulatory trends
- Developing tools to support sustainable trade that are able to be integrated with existing business support services for trade and export
- Enhancing the capacity and skills of existing and emerging exporters so that they can respond to market requirements for environmental and social performance, and strengthen their potential to innovate
- Creating a platform for dialogue between trade organisations, producers, and government organisations on issues related to sustainable consumption and production with the aim of encouraging innovative solutions and maximising access to markets.
A wide variety of tools and actions will be used to reach these aims:
- develop an Internet resource tool that digests trade-related sustainability issues from comprehensive and reliable national and international sources, and demystifies the concept of sustainable trade
- assess the range, extent and value of adopting environmental and social credentials or standards by export companies
- explore and facilitate ways to build the capacity of traders and exporters to develop innovative solutions to overseas social and environmental requirements, particularly for SMEs
- identify and disseminate good practice of experienced exporters
- connect exporters with sources of information or organisations that can assist them to strengthen their environmental and social performance
- create a network of organisations and individuals interested in the relationship between trade and sustainable development
- build linkages with overseas resources and groups dealing with sustainable trade issues
- cooperate and build partnerships with existing organisations (businesses, support and research organisations, governments)
- conduct research and analyses using a sector-wide or cross-sector approaches
- devise a process for monitoring trends in trade-related sustainability issues
- organise thematic consultations.