Taiwan free-trade agreement reaps rewards

GERARD HUTCHING
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2014

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New Zealand is reaping the rewards of its recent free-trade agreement with Taiwan, with exports rising significantly since the December 2013 signing.

For the first five months of 2014, New Zealand exports to Taiwan grew 32 per cent. That compared with trade growth for the year ending June 30 of 13.9 per cent, with total value of $986 million.

Taiwan's exports to New Zealand also grew by over 20 per cent since December. The yearly figure was up 12.5 per cent, amounting to $789m.

New Zealand's eighth-largest export market, Taiwan buys dairy products, beef, fruit and timber, while its exports into New Zealand are mineral fuels, electrical machinery, machinery, iron and steel, plastics, and bicycles.

Taiwan is the world's leading bike manufacturer and Taiwanese companies have been active in supplying materials for the Christchurch rebuild.

Traditionally 23 million-strong Taiwan has been a strong protector of its agriculture and horticulture. Before the agreement, called Anztec, only 25 per cent of New Zealand's trade entered the island duty-free.

"New Zealand has made about $40m duty savings to date which is better than we expected. Meat and dairy still account for about 60 per cent of exports, with dairy 42 per cent," said Dean Prebble, Director of the New Zealand Trade Development Centre in Taipei.

Prebble said New Zealand products had received a big lift following the FTA coming into effect.

"The agreement with New Zealand is always spoken of as a model FTA. There have been a lot of spin-offs for other products such as wine and technology," he said.

Lead negotiator on the agreement, Charles Finny, said Taiwan's decision to work with New Zealand was a strategic one, with an eye on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

"They want to get into the TPP and show they are capable of negotiating a high level agreement. They are a major trader and don't want to be marginalised," he said.

Prebble described Taiwan as a mature market where New Zealanders found it easy to do business.

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