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Bill ensures trade safeguards meet WTO rules

Hon Lianne Dalziel
Minister of Commerce, Minister for Food Safety,
Associate Minister of Justice, MP for Christchurch East

9 September 2008 Media Statement

Bill ensures trade safeguards meet WTO rules

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel today introduced a Bill that will ensure temporary protections for New Zealand industry applied to imported goods at the border are in line with international trade rules.

Safeguards are emergency measures applied at the border, usually in the form of a duty, which may be taken to provide temporary protection to a domestic industry from injury caused by a surge in imported goods.

"The Bill brings our temporary safeguard measures regime up to date and in line with international rules. While it extends the time for completing a safeguard investigation, it gives domestic industry prompt protection by allowing provisional measures to be imposed at an early stage but then refunded if the investigation finds measures are not required," Lianne Dalziel said.

Safeguards are provided for under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the WTO Agreement on Safeguards to allow domestic industry to adjust to increased import competition.

Significant changes proposed by the Bill are:

• Safeguard investigations will be undertaken by the Ministry of Economic Development to make use of its existing trade rules expertise and resources, rather than by independent Temporary Safeguard Authorities which, because of the low number of cases, can be difficult to have immediately available when needed.

• Extending the current 30 working day timeframe for the completion of a safeguard investigation to 75 working days (or 85 days if provisional safeguard duties are requested).

• Authorising the Commerce Minister to impose a provisional and then a final safeguard duty without taking it through a lengthier Cabinet process.

• Detailing matters that must be considered when determining whether the imposition of a safeguard measure is in the public interest, such as the likely effectiveness of a safeguard measure in assisting the domestic industry, the alternatives to a safeguard measure, the likely effect of a safeguard measure on the market (including on consumers), New Zealand’s international relations and trade goals, and the strategic importance of the domestic industry.

The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill replaces a 1987 law with a new regime designed to ensure that it is consistent with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and that promotes efficient, transparent and objective investigative and decision making processes.


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