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U.S. Statement by Deputy Chief of Mission David Shark on the WTO Trade Policy Review of New Zealand

June 11, 2009

Geneva, Switzerland -- Deputy Chief of Mission David Shark gave the following statement on behalf of the United States on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Policy Review of New Zealand.

Thank you, Chair. 

On behalf of the United States, I would like to welcome the delegation of New Zealand, headed by Ambassador David Walker, to New Zealand's fourth Trade Policy Review.  We thank the Secretariat and the government of New Zealand for their informative reports, which provide a useful economic context for exploring New Zealand's trade and investment policies.  Finally, I would like to welcome the valuable contribution of our discussant, Mr. Martin Glass of Hong Kong, China.

The United States and New Zealand share common elements of history and culture and a commitment to democratic principles.  Our officials regularly consult with each other on issues of mutual importance and both governments acknowledge the value of continued close political, economic, and social ties.  New Zealand has worked closely with the United States in various multilateral fora, including in the WTO and in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, to promote open markets.  We, of course, look forward to continuing our time-honored cooperation in this regard.

New Zealand is among the most open economies in the world.  It has low tariff rates, a transparent regulatory system, an efficient customs system and few barriers to exports.  This liberalization contributed to steady real GDP growth averaging 3.2 percent between 2003 and 2008 and an increase in exports and imports of 21 and 32 percent, respectively, during the review period.

In 2008, total U.S.-New Zealand two-way trade in goods was $5.8 billion. U.S. goods exports to New Zealand in 2008 were $2.6 billion, up 70.5% from 1994 (the year prior to the conclusion of the Uruguay Round).  U.S. goods imports from New Zealand totaled $3.2 billion in 2008, up 123% over the same 14 years.  According to the latest data available, U.S. trade in services with New Zealand (exports and imports) totaled $3.2 billion in 2007.

Our bilateral trade in agriculture is worth mentioning.  U.S. exports of agricultural products to New Zealand totaled $220 million in 2008.  By contrast, U.S. imports of agricultural products from New Zealand totaled $1.8 billion in 2008, making New Zealand our 14th largest supplier of agricultural imports.  Leading categories included red meats and dairy products.

New Zealand has negotiated several bilateral and regional trade agreements during this review period, seeking agreements that complement and reinforce the multilateral trading system.  New Zealand's efforts to negotiate a high-standard regional trade agreement through the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership are particularly noteworthy in this regard.

We commend New Zealand for its steadfast support for and commitment to the multilateral trading system and to global trade liberalization.  As the government's report states, New Zealand's highest trade policy priority remains the earliest possible conclusion of the Doha Round.  Furthermore, New Zealand's impressive liberalization record and its effective advocacy of the importance of an open, rules-based trading system for sustained growth has given the government a strong and resonant voice in the WTO. New Zealand has made detailed and constructive proposals in difficult areas, including agriculture, to find a way forward successfully to conclude the Doha negotiations.  The government has lent the WTO three of its gifted leaders to chair the Doha Round's thorny agriculture negotiations.  We take this opportunity to thank once again Ambassador Falconer for his unfailing dedication to the task at hand; and, we look forward to working with Crawford's successor, Ambassador David Walker, to bring the agriculture negotiations to their satisfactory conclusion.

We also applaud New Zealand's leadership in pushing for a high ambition fisheries subsidies agreement and its tireless work to coordinate the efforts of the "Friends of Fish."  We look forward to working closely with New Zealand to secure an agreement that will truly address the problems of global overcapacity and overfishing.

The United States appreciates the action New Zealand took to become an observer to the Government Procurement Agreement in December 2008.  We would urge the government to begin New Zealand's accession to the GPA as soon as possible.

The United States welcomed the opportunity to submit written questions to the delegation of New Zealand on a number of issues.  We thank the delegation of New Zealand for its responses to our questions, which we will examine with great interest.  Despite New Zealand's impressive record, some areas for improvement remain, which we would like to underscore with our remaining time.

New Zealand's stringent SPS regime, which affects virtually all imported animal and plant products.  New Zealand recently concluded reviews of provisions affecting domestic and imported foods.  According to the Secretariat report, "the outcomes of the reviews will be developed into legislation that will put in place a food regulatory program for the whole domestic food industry that takes a risk-based approach, provides for the comprehensive and targeted regulation of imported food, and ensures the delivery of safe and "suitable" food in New Zealand."  We are interested to learn what these reviews concluded and why imported food is targeted for comprehensive and targeted regulation.  As it moves forward, we would urge New Zealand to ensure that the food regulatory program it designs will take full account of New Zealand's WTO obligations so that trade will be allowed to flow.

We would also like to flag questions regarding New Zealand's IPR regime.  In particular, we have specific questions in the patent and industrial design areas, among others, and we look forward to considering your responses.

New Zealand.  In the telecommunications sector, mobile termination rates remain relatively high, despite deregulation, and the cost of mobile usage remains higher than the OECD average.  We would welcome information on the government's current plans for addressing these issues.

In sum, New Zealand's commitment to advancing trade liberalization and its attentiveness to the economic challenges ahead have done much to ensure its future economic growth.  Its program of unilateral tariff reduction, its efforts to simplify its tariff structure, and its efforts to strengthen New Zealand's copyright and trademarks laws should help bolster its future competitiveness and economic growth potential.

In closing, Chair, we wish New Zealand a successful review and we thank the delegation for its responses to our questions.

Thank you.