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Spirits Are Raised As Free Trade Moves Ahead

Media Release
5 August 2004

Spirits Are Raised As Free Trade Moves Ahead

New Zealand distilled spirits exports earned $45.7m in the year to June 2004, up 13% on last year according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today. Export volumes maintained their momentum, growing 3%.

Although this is a pleasing result, exports in the spirits industry stand to grow substantially if the recent progress on the Doha round of trade talks is anything to go by, says chief executive of the Distilled Spirits Association*, Thomas Chin.

“The spirits industry has enormous potential to become a major export earner for New Zealand now that the WTO is back on track with negotiating the removal of excessive trade barriers and tariffs for the agricultural industry.”

Mr Chin represented New Zealand in Geneva last month for the World Spirits Alliance talks with the WTO, congratulates Tim Groser, who chaired the agricultural committee and the WTO on their success with reaching an agreement.

“With agriculture underpinning the foundation of our economy, an end to export subsidies on agricultural goods is of particular importance. Our country stands to be billions of dollars better off in export earnings each year alone.”

New Zealand’s major spirits exports are gin, vodka, liqueurs and Ready to Drink beverages (RTDs), which are sent to more than 30 different countries around the world with our key markets being Australia, North and South Asia and the Pacific.

“The growth and prosperity of New Zealand’s spirit exports depends on the industry’s ability to compete effectively in the worldwide marketplace. Thankfully the trade talks are back on track and a more level playing field is on the horizon. A reduction in import tariffs would help New Zealand bottled and bulk spirit exporters, making pricing more competitive and therefore more profitable.”

For New Zealand’s spirit industry, the move would also mean improved access through lower tariffs. There are also benefits to be gained from greater distribution into the Asia region, in which various markets are currently protected with very high tariffs.

Mr Chin is also delighted with the WTO’s agreement to continue consultations to better protect geographical indications (GIs) on spirits, among other products.

“We hope to see the elimination of excessive regulation and better protection of geographical indications associated with spirits.”

Among other promises, the WTO intends to look into simplifying customs procedures, which are currently unnecessary and extreme.

The spirits industry, among others, will continue to closely monitor the trade talks and look forward to the next stage of the negotiations, to conclude the details on the size and speed of tariff cuts.

ENDS

*The Association represents New Zealand’s leading producers and marketers of premium spirits and liqueurs.

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