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Future Bright For Hoki, Say Ministers

The European Union’s recent decision to again provide a reduced tariff for hoki imports this year is great news for the New Zealand fishing industry.

But Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton and Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson said that an even better arrangement was close at hand.

"The EU has approved access arrangements for hoki whereby unlimited quantities of the product can be exported to the EU at a significantly lower rate of duty," Mr Sutton said.

The EU?s new low duty tariff quota is restricted to 20,000 tonnes, and runs from 1 April to the end of the year. Any product that enters above that limit, or indeed outside the time period, incurs the normal duty of 7.5 percent. By virtue of its WTO commitments, the EU cannot impose a higher duty.

But Mr Sutton and Mr Hodgson said that the yearly negotiation of a tariff rate quota would soon be a thing of the past.

"The EU passed a regulation late last year which provides, amongst many other things, for a total suspension of the normal duty rate on hoki. In other words, our industry will soon be able to export to the EU as much as it can sell, and at only 3.5 percent duty, which is well below the EU?s WTO negotiated rate of 7.5 percent," said Mr Sutton.

This new regime will enter into force on 1 January next year.

Mr Hodgson welcomed the tariff announcement, saying it would be good news for New Zealand's hoki industry.

Total hoki exports to the European Union are valued at around $100 million annually. The recently announced low duty tariff quota is available on a first-come first served basis, and is estimated to be worth around $4 million dollars to the seafood industry. However, with year round access for hoki exports at 3.5 percent duty, the financial benefits will be even higher.

"Our industry estimates that the unlimited access to the EU market for hoki, at a reduced tariff of 3.5 percent, will be worth at least $5-6 million annually," Mr Sutton said.

The future seems very bright indeed for hoki, Mr Sutton and Mr Hodgson said.

ends

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