No unilateral tariff cuts before 2015

18:04, Oct 01 2009

New Zealand will not consider the unilateral reduction of any tariffs until 2015 at the earliest, Trade Minister Tim Groser and Commerce Minister Simon Power say.

Council of Trade Unions Secretary Peter Conway welcomed the tariff freeze, saying it would help protect jobs. It had never made sense to unilaterally cut tariffs and he hoped other countries followed suit, he said.

While tariffs provided much less security for local industry and jobs than in the past, they still made a difference for companies in the carpet, clothing and textile sectors, as well as plastics and whiteware, Mr Conway said.

New Zealand has had a policy of reducing or reviewing its tariffs since the 1980s, though the previous government decided to hold tariffs at 2009 levels until 2011.

The policy was intended to make New Zealand's economy more open and efficient, but it was criticised by some because few other countries unilaterally reduced tariffs.