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NZ/ASEAN Free Trade - Think ten years out!

Tuesday 30 November

NZ/ASEAN Free Trade - Think ten years out!

In welcoming the proposed NZ/ASEAN trade agreement, the Trade Liberalisation Network said exporters must look beyond next year's bottom line for the real gains in any agreement.

"Now is the time to be thinking strategically about where your business should be placed in the next decade. "Companies trading with ASEAN countries, or thinking of doing so, should be asking how long until there is realistically even free trade between the ASEAN members, let alone between the CER members and ASEAN. They need to be asking in which sectors are tariffs and trade barriers being lowered fastest," TLN Executive Director, Suse Reynolds suggested.

While average tariffs among the more developed ASEAN six for example, have fallen from 13% to 1.5% in the last decade, the ASEAN member states remain disparate markets with dozens of non-tariff barriers preventing genuine "free trade". ASEAN members also have the option of excluding products from the common effective preferential tariff (CEPT). "Sensitive agricultural products" may be excluded. Another category allows "temporary exclusions". Malaysia used this in 2000 to protect its car industry.

Reynolds encouraged New Zealand exporters to play an active role in these negotiations, as well as the other trade deals currently being pursued.

"Keep in touch with the Government. Watch the negotiations carefully.
This will not only ensure your strategic assessments are based on the best information, but it will also enable you to speak out if any of these agreements is not contributing to the objectives of the World Trade Organisation's Doha Round where the biggest rewards lie," Reynolds concluded.

ENDS


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