• Dr Lockwood Smith
International Trade

Oman's progress toward membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is good news for New Zealand's exporters, according to Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.
In order to accede to WTO membership, prospective members must conclude bilateral agreements with their trading partners who are members of the WTO. Oman applied for WTO membership in 1996, and has now concluded its bilateral negotiations with New Zealand.

"The conclusion of New Zealand's bilateral negotiations with Oman is good news for New Zealand's exporters," said Dr Smith.

"The agreement delivers better access and higher returns for our exporters, particularly those in the primary production sector. For example, the tariff on chilled and frozen sheepmeat, New Zealand's largest export to Oman, has been reduced fivefold from 25 percent to five percent.

"The agreement delivers certainty and stability to New Zealand exporters to Oman by preventing the unilateral introduction of tariffs which would disrupt trade, and setting basic tariff rates for trade in goods and services," Dr Smith said.

New Zealand exports to Oman in the year ended June 1999 were $16.3 million, mainly consisting sheepmeat, beef, butter, and other dairy products. Oman's exports to New Zealand consisted entirely of petroleum products and totalled NZ$66.4 million for the same period.

"Through its provision of an effective rules-based multilateral trading system, the WTO continues to deliver real benefits to New Zealand and its export sector," Dr Smith said.

"Just last month the WTO ruled in New Zealand's favour in our case against Canada's ‘Special Milk Classes' programme, and today's agreement adds to a long list of similar negotiations that have delivered specific, measurable benefits to New Zealand exporters.

"I wish Oman every success in achieving its aspiration to accede to WTO membership in time for the Third WTO Ministerial in Seattle later this month," Dr Smith concluded.