FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 22 APRIL 2008
Textile Union Welcomes Tariff Freeze
Today's announcement by Commerce Minister, Lianne Dalziel, of a freeze on general tariff reductions for two years from July 2009 has been welcomed by the National Distribution Union. The NDU represents workers in the textile, clothing and footwear industries.
"This was the only sensible approach in light of the outcome of the NZ China Free Trade Agreement," said NDU President, Robert Reid.
"It would have been unconscionable for New Zealand to have unilaterally reduced tariffs quicker than those agreed to in the China FTA," he said.
"The China FTA and today's announcement have considerably slowed down New Zealand's headlong race to zero tariffs," Robert Reid said.
"The 1996 -99 National Government tried to eliminate all TCF tariffs by 2006. This was stopped by the Alliance Party securing a tariff freeze from 2000 - 2005 as part of its Coalition Agreement with Labour in 1999. Without the Alliance, Labour re-introduced a post 2005 tariff reduction regime that has TCF tariffs reducing to 10% by 2009. However Labour remained committed to APEC Bogor goals that require all tariffs to be removed in developed countries by 2010.
"The timetable for tariff reductions in the NZ - China Free Trade Agreement and today's announcement of the two year tariff freeze blows New Zealand's APEC commitments out of the water. This is good news for the TCF sector," said Robert Reid.
"However, these actions are too late in preventing the closure and job losses from a number of iconic New Zealand firms," said Robert Reid.
"In addition, as long as there is a hostile monetary policy environment for manufacturing including the high exchange rate we will continue to see contraction and job losses in the manufacturing sector. The Government must move to address these issues with urgency," Robert Reid said.