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Thai CEP Bill, third reading Parliament

Thai CEP Bill, third reading Parliament

Jim Sutton:

I move, That the Tariff (New Zealand?Thailand Closer Economic Partnership) Bill be now read for a third time. The Bill amends New Zealand's domestic legislation to enable New Zealand to become party to the New Zealand?Thailand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, thereby allowing the Agreement to come into force once Thailand has also completed its domestic implementation processes.

The Agreement provides for all tariffs applying to goods of New Zealand or Thai origin traded between the two countries to be either eliminated immediately or phased out over a scheduled period. Part 1 of the Bill provides for the preferential tariffs conferred by the Agreement to be included in the preferential tariff column of the New Zealand Tariff.

The Agreement also provides for the use of bilateral transitional safeguards by both Thailand and New Zealand. These allow either party to address situations of serious injury, or the threat of serious injury, to domestic industries caused by increased imports due to tariff reductions or removal under the Agreement. If serious injury, or the threat of serious injury, is found to exist following an investigation, the party concerned may revert to higher tariffs for a certain, limited period. Part 2 of the Bill creates a new regime under the Tariff Act enabling New Zealand to apply the transitional safeguard mechanism in the Agreement.

I thank everybody in the House, and in particular members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, for their attention to this important legislation. I would also like to thank the officials who were involved in the negotiation of the Agreement and members of the public and the private sector who provided invaluable input to that process.

The Agreement opens up substantial opportunities for exporters both immediately and over the longer term and will enable New Zealand's trading relationship with Thailand to achieve its full potential. Moreover, the Closer Economic Partnership will serve as a springboard for developing aspects of New Zealand/Thai relations beyond the economic domain. Conclusion of the Agreement has already provided the impetus to introduce a Working Holiday Scheme with Thailand and creates a platform for greater cooperation in areas such as tourism, education, cultural links and scientific exchange. Beyond this, the Agreement with Thailand has added impetus to the pursuit of New Zealand's wider trade strategy objectives in South East Asia, with negotiations now under way on FTAs with Malaysia and the entire ASEAN membership.

I commend the Bill to the House.

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