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Bill clears way for four-nation trade agreement

Hon Phil Goff - Minister of Trade

21 February 2006

Tariff Bill clears way for four-nation trade agreement

Trade Minister Phil Goff introduced to Parliament today the Tariff (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership) Amendment Bill, which is required to implement New Zealand’s latest free trade agreement.

"The four-way Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership liberalises trade between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore," Mr Goff said.

"It is the first trade agreement spanning four countries across Asia and the Pacific and has major strategic and economic opportunities for New Zealand.

"All four countries are members of APEC, and have a combined GDP of around NZ$400 billion. Four-way trade is worth over NZ$2.5 billion dollars.

“Tariff reductions under the agreement will make New Zealand’s exports more competitive in Chile and Brunei Darussalam. Once the agreement comes into force, tariffs will be immediately eliminated on 89 per cent of our current exports to Chile, and 92 per cent of our current exports to Brunei.

"Exports between New Zealand and Singapore are already duty-free under the existing New Zealand-Singapore Closer Economic Partnership.

"Tariffs will be phased out in three steps through to 2015, with special steps for sensitive New Zealand products such as apparel, footwear and carpet," Mr Goff said.

Legislation is required to enact New Zealand’s commitments under the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership agreement, which was signed at the APEC Trade Ministers meeting in Jeju, Korea, last June.

The Bill is scheduled to have its first reading next Tuesday, with the agreement due to come into force on 1 May.

ENDS

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