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Chance to Push for Open Markets in Forest Products

30 May 2005

Global Forest Summit - Chance to Push for Open Markets in Forest Products

A Global Forest Summit beginning in Vancouver this week provides a strong opportunity to promote open markets in the trade of forest products, NZFIC Chairman Lees Seymour said today.

"We're in a key period for trade negotiations in the WTO - such opportunities come rarely and events like the Global Forest Summit can provide industry support for the negotiation process," he said.

The Summit brings together CEOs from 21 countries, representing two thirds of the world's production of forest products to focus their attention on key challenges for the industry in the period to 2015.

Countries from the influential Santa Catalina Group will ask the Summit to send a strong message to the upcoming WTO discussions about eliminating trade barriers and putting in place more effective trade rules.

The Santa Catalina Group is made up of industry organisations from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Chile, South Africa and the United States.

Mr Seymour said a key message to the Summit was that as a global industry it could do more to influence the free trade agenda.

"Other international industries, like the chemicals, automotive and agriculture industries have been doing this sort of thing for years.

"The Santa Catalina Group has made some very good progress - last year it was the first industry group ever to address WTO negotiators directly on the impact of non-tariff trade barriers.

"But we now have the opportunity to deliver a strong message from the global industry to the WTO negotiations."

(NZFIC Chief Executive, Stephen Jacobi, will lead another delegation to Geneva for the WTO discussions the week after the Vancouver Summit.)

Mr Seymour said the industry was keen to see tariffs eliminated and non-tariff barriers addressed.

"In New Zealand we know too well the impact of tariffs. They are a key reason why we've seen the growth in log exports over value added processed products - logs attract lower tariffs.

"But a series of reports have shown us that the cost of non-tariff barriers is over four times that of tariffs."*

The Globa Forest Summit runs from June 1-3. New Zealand will be represented by Mr Seymour, Forest Owners Association President Peter Berg and Charles Schell, General Manager of Crown Forestry.

Other key issues for New Zealand to be discussed at the summit include sustainable forest management and the role of plantation forests in meeting consumer needs for wood and paper.

Next week WTO trade negotiators meet again in Geneva to begin preparing a trade liberalisation package for non-agricultural products including wood and paper for a Ministerial Conference to consider at the end of 2005.


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