Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker says retaliatory tariffs placed on US products by the Chinese Government won’t impact New Zealand’s economy.
In fact, Parker says his advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) is that the response so far from China has been “measured.”
“We still risk the escalation of these tit-for-tat measures – so we’re pleased to see that their response has been targeted and moderate.”
In response to new US tariffs on steel and aluminium, Beijing implemented its own import taxes on 128 US products.
These include a 25% tariff on US pork products as well as aluminium scraps and a 15% on dozens of different fruits and nut products.
In response, the Whitehouse accused China of “distorting the market” and not fairly targeting US exports.
Parker says that as New Zealand has a free trade agreement with China, it has some protection from any such tariffs.
But he is calling on our trading partners to abide by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules when it comes to imposing new tariffs.
“New Zealand is not benefiting from this escalation in protectionism around the world whether it’s from tariffs or non-tariff barriers it is problematic for New Zealand.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand is still trying to hammer out an exemption from the US’ steel and aluminium tariff – Parker says it’s “disappointing that we have not yet achieved one.”
Last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote to US President Donald Trump to plead New Zealand’s case for an exemption.
At the time, Ardern said New Zealand has a “strong case.”
But the Government’s tone has since shifted, with Parker saying less than a week later that the chances of securing an exemption were just “50/50.”
Asked about the exemption on Tuesday morning, Parker says he does not know whether an exemption will be achieved.
“We’re still seeking an exemption from the steel and aluminium tariffs – about another 50 countries in the world are also.”
In the background, Parker says officials are still pursuing trading relationships with Europe and Great Britain, as well as negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement.
“In respect to trade agreements, I think our exporters can rest assured that we’re doing our utmost to protect their interests.”