It's unclear what the flow-on effect will be for New Zealand of new United States' tariffs on Chinese imports, the Trade Minister says.
David Parker says that rising protectionism is not good for New Zealand, or the rest of the world. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller
Donald Trump plans to impose $US60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and limit the country's investment in the US as payback for what he says is years of intellectual property theft.
The US President also announced that members of the European Union, Canada, Mexico and Australia will be exempt from tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium to the US.
Trade Minister David Parker said rising protectionism was not good for the economy.
"It's clear that rising protectionism in the world is not good for New Zealand or the world economy, in terms of what's going to be the effect on steel in New Zealand for example, it's still not clear.
"What's going on in the United States is 'a constantly moving feast', that's the phrase that the New Zealand ambassador to the US used this morning when I spoke with him on the phone trying to get some clarity around this."
Any clarity would have to come through a presidential decision, Mr Parker said.
"There's still a lack of clarity as to how they're going to apply tariffs, when, on whom, whether they're an interim measure, whether they're going to move to quotas for steel imports from some countries above which they pay tariffs."
Mr Parker said New Zealand had been seeking a specific exemption on steel tariffs at every level in government with letters written to President Trump and the US trade representative. He said contact had also been made with the US ambassador to New Zealand who was doing his best within the constraints of his role.