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Aussie Rules Penalize New Zealand Exporters

Any perception that the Australian market is growing closer to New Zealand's is an illusion exporters should be very wary of, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"The list of areas where New Zealand products have to observe different labelling, standards and other regulations when they're exported to Australia just grows longer and longer," said Bruce Goldsworthy, EMA's Manager for Manufacturing Services.

"Australian quarantine regulations that keep out our apples and salmon are merely the tip of a far bigger set of issues.

"All of the following discriminate against our products in one way or another. They're examples only:

* Apparel and Footwear - Australia has mandatory country of origin and other labeling requirements wider than those applying in New Zealand. Local manufacturers must therefore set up separate production runs for Australia.

* Country of origin labeling for consumer products in general - Australia has five layers of description for most consumer items, which New Zealand suppliers have to observe when packing for Australia though they're not required for the local market.

* For cosmetics there is mandatory ingredient labelling in Australia not required here.

* Likewise for therapeutic products there are label requirements for warnings and claims made about them. Work in progress for a joint Therapeutic Goods Agency poses a risk that we will have to adopt Australian standards as we have for the majority of circumstances under the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA).

"Australians by and large are only interested in harmonisation of standards when and if New Zealand adopts their established system or process. The attitude applies even when the New Zealand standard or procedure in question is demonstrably more effective.

"New Zealand manufacturers find Australian industry has little or no commitment to the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement as they are confronted with having to accept Australian regulations and trade rules, or nothing.

"The list of exclusions in Australia to the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement is a lot longer than New Zealand's list applying to imports from Australia.

"Mandatory testing of electrical and gas appliances by third party agencies is another area of added cost, with Australian testing agency accreditation generally accepted in New Zealand though Australian authorities often disallow New Zealand testing agency reports.

"It's also far less costly for an Australian export to come across a New Zealand port than for New Zealand goods to enter Australia due largely to far greater New Zealand port efficiency.

"However New Zealand's hazardous substances legislation has veered away from anywhere else in the world, including Australia, whose regime also has its own unique requirements. At this stage no products "approved" under our HSNO legislation have automatic acceptance or recognition in Australia.

"In spite of all these and other outstanding matters under CER, the free trade agreement has been of great value to manufacturers and other exporters on both sides of the Tasman. New Zealand manufactured exports to Australia earned $4.22 billion last calendar year, seven per cent more than in 2000.

"Clearly CER has the potential to deliver more value yet but it will depend on a bit more flexibility in Australia's approach, and more commitment from across the ditch to achieve it."


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