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Chinese Wool Quota Regulations Published

China's new regulations for wool imports would allow five per cent more wool to be imported this year, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton welcomed China's publication of the tariff quota regulations for wool imports in 2002. The regulations allow imports of 337,000 tonnes of wool and wool tops into China this year, a five percent increase on last year's quota allocation.

"China is New Zealand's most important market for wool with our exports to China topping $NZ166 million for the year ended June 2001. Access for wool was therefore New Zealand's number one priority in our negotiations over China's accession to the World Trade Organisation. We are pleased that tariff quota access has now reached its highest ever levels."

Mr Sutton said he was also pleased that China had decided to introduce a "first-come, first-served" mechanism to allocate the tariff quota to importers.

"We have been arguing for years for more market responsive import arrangements and the steps China has made are certainly in the right direction. It is gratifying to see positive results from the efforts made by Ministers and officials over recent years."

Nevertheless there are aspects of the new import arrangement that are a cause for concern, he said.

"Because of the importance of the Chinese wool market to New Zealand, the Government is looking closely at the new regulations in terms of how they will operate in practice, their consistency with China's WTO commitments and the undertakings that have been given to New Zealand Ministers in recent years."

Mr Sutton will lead a New Zealand trade delegation to Northern China a week's time and plans to discuss the new wool regulations with his Chinese counterpart when he visits Beijing.


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