The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has just completed its
fifth Trade Policy Review for New Zealand.1 As
expected, the WTO endorsed New Zealand’s continuing commitment to global free
trade. Here are some headlines from the Review:
NZ was praised for its strong commitment to the rules-based multilateral
trading system, of which the WTO forms part. Interestingly, NZ has not been a
heavy user of the WTO dispute system (laying only one complaint in the last six
NZ was urged to continue negotiating and expanding its free trade
relationships (such as the recent FTA concluded with the Republic of Korea, the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Single Economic Market agenda with
Although it already has one of the most accommodating tariff systems in the
world, NZ was urged to reduce its bound tariffs overall and to lower tariffs in
textiles. A review of the tariff system is due in 2016.
There was also approval for NZ’s work in updating the Dumping and
Countervailing Duties Act 1988, and for passing the Trade (Safeguard Measures)
Act 2014. Some critics understandably wanted greater transparency during the
various stages of an anti-dumping investigation.
Import restrictions are few now, but there were concerns that some obstacles
remain in relation to food and pharmaceutical products.
Likewise, there are few remaining restrictions on foreign direct investment
outside the transport and telecommunications sectors. Some questions were asked
about streamlining the screening processes under the remaining regimes (such as
the Overseas Investments Act 2005 and Fisheries Act 1996).
The apparent lack of competition in the dairy sector was flagged as a
possible issue, as was the retention of a single export desk in the kiwifruit
sector. Although the dairy sector is currently under review, the NZ government
indicated that it has no plans to revisit Zespri’s position.
NZ was also commended for modernising its intellectual property regime,
although some wondered why the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits)
Registration Act 2006 was yet to come into force.
Overall, it was a very positive report card with only one or two minor
concerns. Exporters and importers can take comfort that NZ’s trade policy is
continuing to head in the right direction.
This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.