The Star, Malaysia
FTA with NZ to improve time frames
By M. Hafidz Mahpar
10 August 2009
AUCKLAND: The bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between Malaysia and New Zealand, which is expected to be inked by year-end, seeks to improve the time frames agreed on earlier under the Asean-Australia and New Zealand FTA.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry director (Auckland office) Michael Chilton said it was “essentially an improvement in time frames for elimination (of tariffs). It’s looking at getting accelerated results.”
Negotiations between the two countries, whose two-way trade was reported to be almost US$3bil last year, were concluded in May.
Matt Crawford ... ‘It’s also about the services and investments’
The ministry’s trade policy liaison unit manager, Matt Crawford, said New Zealand was looking at getting the FTA with Malaysia signed towards the end of this year. “It’ll probably come into effect six months after that,” he added.
Chilton and Crawford were speaking to reporters from Asian and Middle East publications during a Fonterra Co-operative Group media familiarisation trip. Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is New Zealand’s biggest business organisation by revenue and accounts for a quarter of the country’s exports.
New Zealand’s biggest exports to Malaysia are dairy products, eggs and honey, while it imports mainly mineral fuel, oil and machinery from the latter.
Crawford said the only areas in New Zealand where there was currently tariff protection were textile and footwear.
Asked what countries had to gain by cutting tariffs for products from New Zealand, Crawford said it was not straight goods-to-goods exchange.
“It’s also about the services and investments. We’re increasingly seeing the FTAs in terms of cooperation agreements. The Asean one is an agricultural cooperation which includes New Zealand’s technology transfer to the market,” he said.
“Increasingly, something that has led New Zealand to being seen as an attractive partner is access to ready supplies of high quality, safe food and beverage products. There is an increasing shortage of those things, and concerns around shortages are being part of an agreement with New Zealand. So it’s also about ensuring supplies to their market’s consumers as much as getting access to our market.”
Michael Chilton ... ‘we demonstrate to the slow people in the international sphere that if you don’t get on, you’ll be left behind’
Chilton said that in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be a need for bilateral or regional FTAs as there would be a successful end to the Doha Round negotiations.
“But what we’ve found is that there is no point in trying to do just one set of negotiations on a huge international level. One of the issues that arise in international negotiations is that some countries are more resistant to considering trade deals than others.
“They need to understand that the world is not going to simply wait for them to change their attitude and (level of) understanding. We’re going to get on with it.
“By showing that we’re willing to carry on with individual and regional agreements, we demonstrate to the slow people in the international sphere that if you don’t get on, you’ll be left behind. It’s up to you.”