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Thai workers deserve to eat competitive NZ greens

8 July 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Thai workers deserve to eat healthy, competitive NZ greens

Thai workers deserve the opportunity to afford to eat healthy New Zealand-grown fruit and vegetables and other competitively produced goods, says Progressive MP Matt Robson. "Lowering Thailand's punitive barriers on New Zealand exports would not only be very good for New Zealand workers in the horticultural and farming sectors.

"It would also provide Thai workers and consumers with the opportunity to afford healthier and cheaper food for themselves and their families than they are now able to purchase," Matt Robson said.

The governments of New Zealand and Thailand want to lower unfair barriers that block trade between the two nations. Primary products and elaborately manufactured goods dominate New Zealand exports to Thailand, while Thai exports to New Zealand are dominated by vehicles, computers and other manufactured items. Thailand is the source of just 1% of New Zealand imports of textiles, clothing or footwear.

In 2003, New Zealand exporters paid $43 million in import taxes or tariffs in Thailand at an high average rate of 12%. Thai exporters to New Zealand paid just $8 million in New Zealand import tariffs at an average rate of just 1.5%.

"New Zealand skimmed milk powder currently faces Thai import tariff penalties of up to 218%. Unfair import taxes imposed on New Zealand horticulture exports are set at up to 60 percent, plus restrictive arbitrary volume or quota barriers on items such as potatoes. Frozen beef tariffs sit at a whopping 50 percent, while New Zealand manufactured exports face Thai import tariffs of up to 30 percent," the Progressive MP said.

It was reported today by ANZ Bank that the average foreign currency price of New Zealand's commodity exports rose by a further 3.3% in the month of June, lifting the index to a new record high. World prices have risen by 26.2% over the past year

"New Zealand is NOT getting the full benefit of these price gains, however, because of unfair trade barriers on our exports," Matt Robson said.

The reduction of tariffs, and the removal of other trade barriers through a fair trade deal, is expected to generate real benefits for New Zealand exporters in both agricultural and manufactured products and job opportunities for Kiwis. A study into the potential gains of a fair trade deal is available at www.mfat.govt.nz


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