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Wood Sector Welcomes Free Trade Announcement

Wood Sector Welcomes Free Trade Announcement

News of New Zealand’s Closer Economic Partnership with Thailand has been welcomed by the forest and wood processing industries as an important step in strengthening South East Asia market access.

New Zealand Forest Industries Council (NZFIC) Chief Executive Stephen Jacobi saidcalled Thailand was a longer-term development market for New Zealand forest and wood product exporters.

“This announcement also brings us one step closer to the end goal, a comprehensive free trade agreement with the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),” he said.

Mr Jacobi said NZFIC strongly supports the Government’s efforts to remove tariff and non tariff barriers to international trade. Mr Jacobi said tariff elimination supported the Government’s objective of retaining and expanding processing and manufacturing for export in New Zealand.
“In the wood sector, New Zealand jobs depend on maximising free trade. We can’t expand our local processing and manufacturing industries without international markets that are open to our products.”

Escalating tariffs in many Asian countries impact on New Zealand exports. They prevent adding value in New Zealand and encourageecourage trade in lower value commodities.

“Thailand currently imposes an escalating tariff regime on our wood product exports. We lookAs a principle FIC supports the liberalisation of all international markets, and we are looking forward to seeing that come to an endthe government ensure the elimination of tariffs in Thailand,” Mr Jacobi said.

NZFIC made a comprehensive submission to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the opportunities in Thailand for the forest and wood processing industries.

“Thailand’s large and growing furniture export industry could provide significant opportunities for exporters of higher grade timbers, joinery and furniture components.”

Mr Jacobi noted in particular the welcome reductions in duties that had been achieved by New Zealand negotiators in respect of medium density fibreboard (MDF), plywood and insulation board.

Mr Jacobi said NZFIC would continue to support the Government’s efforts to achieve freer trade in the wider Asian region.

“Before Christmas we will be formally contributing to Ministry and Foreign Affairs and Trade’s thinking about New Zealand’s potential free trade agreements with ASEAN and Malaysia”.

Mr Jacobi said that to a large extent the future of the New Zealand forest and wood products industry lay in the markets of the Asia Pacific rim.

“With free trade agreements with Australia, Singapore and now Thailand in place, and negotiations proceeding or likely to proceed with China, ASEAN and Malaysia, a number of key markets for New Zealand are now covered. We need to continue the momentum that has been established and work towards future liberalisation with the United States, Japan and Korea, either directly with the countries concerned or through the World Trade Organisation.”

“The Government can count on our support for its continuing efforts to bring down trade barriers wherever they occur,” concluded Mr Jacobi.

About Forestry NZFIC represents and promotes the interests of all sectors involved in the New Zealand forest industry. Membership comprises forestry companies and industry associations who collectively own and manage a sustainable, planted production forest resource of 1.8 million hectares. New Zealand forestry directly employs 25,000 people, accounts for four percent of GDP, has annual sales of more than $5 billion and is the country’s third largest export earner at $3.5 billion annually. Through its Wood Processing Strategy and Vision 2025, the industry aims to become New Zealand’s largest export sector, directly employ 60,000 people, contribute 14 percent of GDP and record an annual turnover of $20 billion. Further information about the forest and wood products industry can be found at www.nzfic.org.nz. About NZ/Thailand Trade in Forest and Wood Products Thailand is currently New Zealand’s eleventh most important market for exports of forest and wood products valued at $31 million in the year ending December 2003 (around 1 percent of total exports). A copy of the NZFIC submission to the Government can be found at www.nzfic.org.nz/submissions

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