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NZ and US submit joint WTO forestry trade proposal

28 January 2005

NZ and US submit joint WTO forestry trade proposal

New Zealand and the US are submitting a joint proposal to the World Trade Organisation aimed at tackling non-tariff barriers in the international trade of forest and wood products, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The proposal is to be submitted tonight NZ time to the WTO Secretariat in Geneva.

Mr Sutton said he was pleased that the New Zealand and US governments and our respective industries worked so closely together to develop this proposal.

"NTBs are increasingly significant barriers to New Zealand's exports and are very difficult to deal with. This is an innovative proposal about how the negotiations could tackle some key barriers."

Forestry is New Zealand's 3rd largest export sector worth over $3 billion p.a. and employing over 26,000 people directly, mainly in regional towns. The industry says the biggest barrier to its exports are non-tariff barriers in overseas markets, such as regulations that unfairly limit the use of timber in building construction.

The proposal, the latest in a series of initiatives in the forestry sector taken by New Zealand, has been submitted to the WTO's Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiating group, one of the key bodies in the WTO's current Doha Development Round negotiations.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand's aim was to achieve an ambitious outcome from the NAMA negotiations. Liberalisation in the forestry sector was a key priority for New Zealand.

"The forest products sector is an important industry in both developed and developing countries, providing sustainable economic returns and employment. Removing barriers to trade in this sector will therefore help to secure this sectors contribution to boosting global welfare."

ENDS

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