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Parallel Imports - Another Backward Step

Import News from the Importers Institute

12 May 2000 - Parallel Imports - Another Backward Step

Soon after it came into power, the Government decided to ban parallel imports of CDs, videos, books and computer software for up to two years after their release.

Some holders of franchises for other goods, such as clothing, have been lobbying for the same protection for some time.

Since it was first announced, this policy has generated much debate - some of it rather revealing. We publish a few of the more interesting comments below.

"The policy was announced earlier this year. As a result of the policy changes provided, the US embassy has announced that New Zealand has been taken off the watch list for countries which provide concerns over international trade." Hon Trevor Mallard, Acting Minister of Commerce, 2/5/2000.

"The United States appreciates the commitment New Zealand has made to strengthen its copyright and trademark laws and removal from the watch list recognises that commitment." US Ambassador Carol Mosely Brown, 2/5/2000.

"The Government is continuing the noble policy of its predecessor of sucking up to the Americans on trade policy issues to make up for perceived indiscretions in defence and foreign policy." Hon Peter Dunne, Leader, United New Zealand Party, 3/5/2000.

"An American copyright/patent holder charging less for his product in Taiwan than in New Zealand wants Kiwi consumers to carry on subsidising Taiwanese consumers and his own price cutting in a Taiwanese price war. He doesn't want a parallel importer to pick up a consignment in Taiwan and re-sell it in New Zealand for less than the regular Kiwi price. So the Yank goes to his government and gets what he wants and the Kiwi consumer gets screwed." Warren Berryman, Editorial in The Independent, 10/5/2000.

"Ironically by driving people to the Net, Mr Anderton will ruin the local creative industry by removing paying customers from stores and turning them to music-for-free net customers. Parallel importing benefited all consumers at the expense of a few monopoly licence holders. The Government should not turn the clock backwards by legislating price increases that will benefit nobody but monopolists." Stephen Franks, ACT MP, 10/5/2000.

And our own comment: The Labour/Alliance government was lobbied by a group of franchise holders who masked their self-interest argument as 'concern for cultural identity'. By accepting this poppycock, the government shows yet again that its understanding of business is approximately zero. The lobbyists were supported by the American Ambassador, who demanded the 'right' of American firms to price discriminate against New Zealand consumers. This government's anti-business instinct is even stronger than its anti-Americanism.


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