Marlborough wine exporters welcome TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will level the playing field for Marlborough wine exporters, opening up international markets and saving them millions of dollars in tariff fees.

After five years of negotiations between 12 Pacific Rim countries, the New Zealand wine industry has come out a winner.

All tariffs on wine exports between the countries will be eliminated.

At present, each country in the partnership has different tariffs on wine.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the trade deal, agreed on Monday night, would allow Marlborough wine exporters to compete with international producers that already had preferential tariffs.

"If you give consumers a New Zealand wine over the rest of the world, I'd like to think they'd choose us," he said.

The United States and Australia would continue to be the focus for wine exporters but he predicted gradual growth in new markets that the agreement would open up.

If the trade agreement was signed into law by Parliament, New Zealand would gain five new free trade partners; the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

Accolade Wines sales and marketing director Jack Glover said this would make exporting wine to the United States easier. 

Because the domestic market was too small to sustain the wine industry, most Marlborough wine companies exported around 70 per cent of their product, Glover said.

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Anything that gave exporters a leg up was a good thing, Glover said.

"They're a massive part of what keeps us alive."

Rapaura Springs sales and marketing manager Mark Bowers said a lot of Marlborough wine was sold at premium prices which, combined with existing tariffs, put them beyond the price range of some international customers.

If exporters passed on their savings, Marlborough wines would become more accessible, he said.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said he was delighted with the outcome of the partnership as it could potentially save the industry $10 million a year in tariff fees.

"This is an excellent outcome for the New Zealand wine industry. Finalising the TPP is strategically very important for our export future as the TPP countries already account for over 60 per cent of New Zealand wine exports.

"While we have not seen the detail of the agreement we understand it will provide improved access into key TPP markets, and a secure rules-based system that will help us to improve market access."

The United States was New Zealand's most valuable wine export market, worth $372m.

New Zealand exported about 60 million litres of wine every year to the US, costing producers about $4.2m in tariff fees, Gregan said.

He expected the industry to gain greater access to Asian markets.

Japan was an attractive market because wine was seen as a luxury product and not produced there, he said.

At present, Japan bought $13.7m worth of New Zealand wine.

"It's all pretty positive from our point-of-view. We were always confident for a good outcome but you never know until the deal is done."

New Zealand wine exports were valued at $1.46 billion, with an aim of reaching $2b a year by 2020.

"TPP will undoubtedly help the wine industry reach our goal of $2b of exports by 2020. We congratulate the government and the negotiators for their hard work, and the very positive outcome they have achieved," Gregan said.

In 2014, total New Zealand wine exports to countries signed up to the partnership were valued at $839m. 

 - The Marlborough Express

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