28 January 2005
WTO Forestry Proposal Good News - Industry
New Zealand’s decision to collaborate with the United States on a joint proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
on reducing non tariff barriers facing the international trade of forest and wood products is an important step forward,
says Forest Industries Council Chief Executive Stephen Jacobi.
“We have been working very hard with the US industry representatives on this, and with the other big players. Non tariff
barriers are an issue for the Goliaths as well as the Davids,” he said.
Common non tariff barriers facing wood product exporters were local standards, technical regulations and the procedures
used to test whether standards and regulations have been met.
“As tariffs come down there is more opportunity for export to international markets, but the rules and regulations that
apply in each country mean doing business is still very complex. “A good example is China. When China joined the WTO,
New Zealand exporters gained market access, but then we faced another battle to get New Zealand Radiata pine accepted in
the Chinese Building Code,” Mr Jacobi said.
“What we want to do is make sure we don’t have to keep going through these sorts of hoops every time a new market opens
Mr Jacobi expected the WTO to react positively to the proposal, although there was work to be done in encouraging
support from other WTO delegations.
“As we found when we visited Geneva with an international industry delegation last May, the WTO is looking for practical
ways to negotiate on non tariff barriers. This proposal is innovative and basically puts our sector ahead of others in
terms of the thinking required to get a positive result from this key aspect of the WTO negotiation”.
The industry’s contribution to the proposal was based on a paper outlining the generic non tariff barriers typically
faced by exporters. In New Zealand’s case the paper drew heavily on experiences in China and Japan.
“The Government has been very supportive in taking our input on board and developing a process for addressing our
concerns through the trade negotiation process. We have worked hand in glove with New Zealand’s trade negotiators and
the Wood Processing Strategy’s Trade Access Group,” Mr Jacobi said.
“If we are able to get a better international trade environment it means lower business costs for exporting and more
use of our products in higher value applications.”
NZFIC represents and promotes the interests of all sectors involved in the New Zealand forest industry. Membership
comprises forestry companies and industry associations who collectively own and manage a sustainable, planted production
forest resource of 1.8 million hectares. New Zealand forestry directly employs 25,000 people, accounts for four percent
of GDP, has annual sales of more than $5 billion and is the country’s third largest export earner at $3.5 billion
annually. Through its Wood Processing Strategy and Vision 2025, the industry aims to become New Zealand’s largest export
sector, directly employ 60,000 people, contribute 14 percent of GDP and record an annual turnover of $20 billion.
Further information about the forest industry can be found at www.nzfic.org.nz.