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Taiwan, New Zealand Sign Trade Treaty

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

12 July 2013

An economic cooperation agreement (ANZTEC) between New Zealand and Taiwan was signed on July 10, 2013, according to an announcement by the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office (NZCIO) in Taipei and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington.

ANZTEC, which should enter into force next year after passing through the two countries' ratification procedures, contains 25 chapters covering a wide range of topics, including trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures and cooperation, trade in services, investment, government procurement, dispute settlement, technical barriers to trade, electronic commerce and intellectual property.

As part of the agreement, Taiwan will liberalize 99.88 percent of its tariff lines for goods (excluding rice) over 12 years, while New Zealand will liberalize 100 percent, except certain industrial products where tariffs are set to be eliminated over four years. However, 99.61 percent of Taiwan's industrial products, its main export to New Zealand, will enjoy immediate tariff elimination upon ANZTEC's entry into force; an element of the agreement that was said to be highly beneficial for Taiwan's small and medium-sized enterprises.

In fact, the two countries' economic structures are said to be highly complementary, in that Taiwan's main exports comprise electronic components and parts, machinery and petrochemicals, while New Zealand mainly exports dairy products, fruit and lamb.

Taiwan was New Zealand's 12th largest trading partner last year, with bilateral trade totaling approximately USD1.2bn and New Zealand being Taiwan's 8th largest source of agricultural imports in 2012. In particular, ANZTEC is expected to lower the cost of agricultural products from New Zealand that are popular in Taiwan, and, according to the preliminary studies, Taiwan is expected to see its exports rise by USD144m and imports increase by USD139m.

Negotiations on the ECA were launched in May 2012, following the completion of the independent studies. The agreement was signed by NZCIO and TECO within the framework of the World Trade Organization (in which Taiwan is a separate customs territory), so as not to constitute an official governmental agreement between the two countries and, thereby, possibly disrupt New Zealand's existing relationship with China.

The agreement is Taiwan's first trade treaty to be concluded with its other trading partners after the conclusion of the economic cooperation framework agreement with China, which went into effect on September 12, 2010. It has been reported that economic cooperation agreement talks with Singapore have been concluded, but the agreement has not yet been signed.

New Zealand and Singapore are two of the original signatories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the extension of which is currently being negotiated under the leadership of the United States, and the joining of which Taiwan has identified as a long-term objective.

TAGS: tax | commerce | tariffs | trade treaty | China | Taiwan | food | agreements | manufacturing | New Zealand | import duty | trade | services

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