The World Trade Organisation's agreement to eliminate subsidies on agricultural exports could be worth more to New Zealand than free trade agreements which enshrine protectionism, NZ First leader Winston Peters suggests.
The former foreign minister says the WTO announcement at the weekend raises questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Korean FTA.
"Unlike these arrangements, the elimination of agricultural export subsidies under the WTO Nairobi agreement eliminates $22 billion worth of subsidies our farmers and exporters face," he said on Monday.
"Our country's attention has seriously been on the wrong prize by treating the WTO as an also-ran."
Export subsidies are paid by governments to industries to help them compete internationally - they can offer their products at a lower price on the world market.
Mr Peters says that under the agreement, many developed countries will axe export subsidies immediately with developing countries within three years.
"The TPP and the Korean free trade agreements enshrine subsidies and protectionism," he said.
"NZ First firmly backs the WTO route because it will meaningfully boost trade and export returns."
Trade Minister Todd McClay, who was at the Nairobi conference, says the outcome directly benefits New Zealand's agricultural exporters who have to compete with subsidised products.
"It's been illegal to subsidise the exports of industrial goods for more than half a century," he said.
"It's a major achievement to at last extend that principle to agriculture."
Mr Peters says Mr McClay helped secure the breakthrough and should be congratulated.