New Zealand’s upgrade of FTA with China will boost timber industry

Plans to upgrade New Zealand’s free trade agreement (FTA) with China would open trade doors for more timber exports to China and more employment in New Zealand, according to the Chair of the New Zealand Wood Council, Brian Stanley.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand’s main aim in the China FTA upgrade is to reduce dairy quotas, but he also emphasised other improved trade prospects in China, including timber exports.

Presently, New Zealand dairy exports to China are worth $2.9 billion a year, while forest products are New Zealand’s second most important export to China, at $1.8 billion a year.

New Zealand negotiators will also be looking at current non-tariff barriers for New Zealand timber exports to China, according to Stanley.

“The Chinese timber industry has all sorts of government assistance against imports, and even when we are competing against other exporters there, such as the US and Canada, the Chinese regulations are stacked against us. We’d also want more transparency in their phytosanitary rules.”

Stanley said the New Zealand industry would like to see the China FTA result in more production and work for processors in New Zealand.

“At the moment, China takes more than two-thirds of our log exports, but it lags behind the United States, Australia and Japan for importing processed timber from New Zealand, such as sawn timber, panels and paper.”