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CEP negotiations with Thailand concluded

1 December 2004
Media Statement

CEP negotiations with Thailand successfully concluded

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced the successful conclusion of negotiations on a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) Agreement between New Zealand and Thailand. The announcement came after a bilateral meeting with her Thai counterpart, Thaksin Shinawatra, at the ASEAN Leaders summit in Vientiane, Lao.

The Prime Minister hailed the CEP as an important step for New Zealand’s relationship with a key South East Asian nation. Helen Clark said that it would establish a mutually beneficial partnership which would stand New Zealand in good stead in its wider relationships in the region, especially as it approaches free trade negotiations involving ASEAN and Australia.

“The comprehensive removal of trade barriers into Thailand will create new opportunities for New Zealand in the rapidly growing Thai market. An estimated $33 million was levied in tariffs on New Zealand exports to Thailand in 2003, with import quotas further restricting some products. Currently only four per cent of New Zealand exports enter Thailand duty free, with the rest facing relatively high tariffs. On implementation of the agreement, 52 per cent of New Zealand’s current exports will immediately become tariff free on entry into Thailand. Tariffs on a further thirteen per cent of trade will be phased out by 2010, with another twenty per cent by 2020. All tariffs and import quota restrictions on New Zealand exports to Thailand will be removed by 2025.”

“In addition to the removal of tariffs, the CEP will help address other trade barriers such as standards, sanitary and phytosanitary issues and customs procedures.

“Provisions are included to make life easier for New Zealand businesspeople and investors operating in Thailand, with substantive negotiations on services trade are scheduled within three years.

“Thailand has already concluded a free trade agreement with Australia and is in negotiations with a number of other large trading partners, including the US and Japan. It is important that we have secured our own agreement in order to ensure that New Zealand exporters are not disadvantaged,” Helen Clark said.

New Zealand will remove its remaining tariffs on imports from Thailand by 2015.

“New Zealand’s economy is already very open so the impact on New Zealand from removing these trade barriers is not expected to be significant,“ Helen Clark said.

The Prime Minister also announced that New Zealand and Thailand had concluded negotiations in parallel with the CEP on Arrangements covering labour and environment issues. These are aimed at promoting sound labour policies and practices and enhancing environmental quality in both countries through cooperation and dialogue.

ENDS

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