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Growth in trade with Singapore stimulated by CEP

Growth in trade with Singapore stimulated by CEP

Trade with Singapore has increased, following the implementation of the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement between New Zealand and Singapore, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton and Acting Customs Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Both ministers emphasised that the rules of origin under the agreement were being rigorously enforced.

The Singapore CEP agreement came into effect on 1 January this year.

New Zealand Customs Service figures for January-March show an increase in trade of 19 per cent compared to the same three months last year.

Imports were up 11 per cent while exports were up 27 per cent.

These figures show the same trend as data released by the Singapore Government after the first two months of the agreement, although the figures cannot be directly compared because of different methods of data collection and analysis.

To qualify for duty-free entry to New Zealand under the CEP Agreement, the goods must meet the rules of origin set out in the agreement. Importers must advise New Zealand Customs when they claim duty-free status for their goods under the agreement, known as a tariff preference, and Customs has to be satisfied the claim is legitimate.

Jim Anderton said Customs was checking shipments of textiles, clothing and footwear from Singapore, to ensure the rules designed to protect New Zealand manufacturers from unfair competition were being followed.

Most of Singapore's exports to New Zealand already entered New Zealand duty-free.

Since January, less than one per cent of total imports from Singapore entered under the agreement's provision for tariff preference on goods of Singaporean origin. Tariff duty forgone in the past three months due to Singapore's preferential tariff has been minimal.

Mr Sutton said that despite unfounded fears in some quarters that the CEP would result in a sudden influx of textiles, clothing and footwear products into New Zealand from Singapore or third countries under the new zero tariff, this was not happening.

"There has in fact been a very low level of TCF imports under the tariff preference. This means TCF imports from Singapore are continuing to pay the normal tariff, because they do not meet the rules of origin provided for in the Agreement."

Jim Anderton said New Zealand manufacturers could have confidence that the Customs Service was playing its part in enforcing the rules while facilitating fair trade.

ENDS

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