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Call To Consult First

While everyone applauds the intention to assist least developed countries by granting them tariff free access to our market, Government should have consulted New Zealand business first, says the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"It is plain from the way the latest unilateral tariff move has been decided that Government has not considered all the consequences of it," said Bruce Goldsworthy, Director of EMA's Manufacturing Division.

"First, the value of free trade agreements cannot be established by looking at historical data and projecting that into the future. While imports from the least developed countries are only $20 million, that is no gauge at all of what they could become under the new arrangement.

"Second, international traders do not think like governments. They look for any loophole or opportunity. For example there is nothing to stop Vietnamese apparel and footwear makers shipping their products via Laos or Cambodia and thereby avoiding the 19 per cent tariff they otherwise have to pay.

"Thirdly, it is difficult to see any benefit for New Zealand consumers as experience shows importers and retailers maximise their margins when tariffs fall or exchange rates move favourably for them.

"We are all for accelerated free trade provided it is fair trade and measures are instituted to ensure this is the case wherever possible.

"We strongly urge Government not to make commitments such as this without first discussing them with local industry."

Further comment: Bruce Goldsworthy tel 09 367 0948 (bus)

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