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“Great News” for the Timber Industry - Minister

“Great News” for the Timber Industry, Says Sutton

A US Appeal Court decision upholding the lifting of an injunction which threatened the growth of New Zealand’s wood exports to the US was “great news” for the timber industry, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today

Environmental groups challenging US pest control regulations won an injunction in 1997 preventing new import permits being issued for some wood products from New Zealand, Chile and Siberia.

The US Government fought the injunction, which was overturned in January 1999 and that ruling has now been upheld by three Appeal Court judges in a decision made public at the weekend.

“An unfavourable appeal decision would have seriously jeopardised the development of new business. The original injunction cost our industry $30 million-$40 million in new business sales,” Mr Sutton said.

Mr Sutton said the appeal decision endorsed current US import regulations for timber and reinforced New Zealand’s view that its timber exports were never a threat to US biosecurity.

“It’s wonderful news for the New Zealand timber industry. The US is our 4th-largest market for timber products, and there is huge potential for exports to grow,” Mr Sutton said.

The booming US economy and shortage of domestic timber had seen strong demand there for imports from New Zealand, which increased 45 percent last year to be worth $268 million.

Mr Sutton said he was pleased that the US Government had taken such firm action in defence of its own import regulations. He noted that environmental groups had 90 days to request a Supreme Court review of the case, but was confident such a request would not be accepted.
BACKGROUND

The injunction won by US environmental groups in 1997 prevented the issuing of new import permits, or the renewal or amendment of existing import permits for non-tropical wood products from New Zealand, Chile and Siberia.

A California District Court then found in favour of the defendants, the United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the subsequent appeal arguments were heard by three US Appeal judges on 8 February 2000.

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