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"Sustainable entrepreneur Volkert Engelsman tells WTO boss: "Level playing field is missing"

Roberto de Azevêdo acknowledges hidden trade barriers‏

"The main trade barriers do not lie at national frontiers." That was Nature & More's message to Roberto de Azevêdo, Director General of the WTO, when he visited the Netherlands in September. The WTO leader wanted to learn from Dutch entrepreneurs what trade obstacles they encountered in their work. "The main problem is a global issue", said Volkert Engelsman, CEO of Nature & More. "There is no level playing field for sustainable and non-sustainable producers, which leads to hidden trade barriers." 

The Director-General of the WTO, Brazilian Roberto de Azevêdo, visited trade nation Netherlands in the second week of September and held meetings with the royal family, the Dutch parliament and representatives from the agricultural sector, which is one of Holland's success stories. Volkert Engelsman was invited as CEO of Eosta, a specialist in organic fruits and vegetables that has scooped up numerous international awards for its online transparency system Nature & More. De Azevêdo wanted to know what food exporters see as the main obstacles.

While the conventional producers complained about non-tariff based trade barriers such as high standards for pesticide residues, Engelsman chose a different angle. "The real problem is that ecological and social cost, for example as a consequence of pesticide use, are shifted on to our society and future generations. As long as importers and exporters get away with the lowest possible price as a result of killing soil, biodiversity and the climate, there is no level playing field."

De Azevêdo acknowledged the problem and added that he is in favour of cutting tariffs on green products. However he asserted that WTO can only work at frontiers, and cannot influence issues that run across borders. Engelsman reacts: "Externalised costs constitute a global barrier to sustainable trade, which is what the world really needs at this point in history. This should be a concern for the World Trade Organisation. Non-sustainable products are now competing unfairly with sustainable products."

For more information:
Michaël Wilde - Manager Communicatie en Duurzaamheid
Tel: +31-(0)180-635563
Mob: + 31-(0)6-20535063
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