NZ Resolves Trade Dispute with India

  • Dr Lockwood Smith
International Trade

Kiwifruit exporters will be the first to gain after New Zealand and India reached an agreement on phasing out Indian import restrictions, International Trade Minister Lockwood Smith announced today.

"New Zealand kiwifruit has previously not been allowed into India. But now it will have access in unrestricted quantities to the world's second most populous country from April next year, " Dr Smith said.

"Quantitative restrictions will also be eliminated on fruit juices, some sheepmeat, seafood, vegetables and dairy items in the next two to three years." Restrictions on apples, liquid milk and some wine and other sheepmeat products will be lifted by 2002 at the latest.

India has been severely restricting imports of these and other products to ease balance of payments problems. But Dr Smith said the International Monetary Fund has confirmed these difficulties are over and that the quantitative restrictions should be removed.

Dr Smith said New Zealand and other WTO member countries had persuaded India to shorten its proposed phase-out plan for the complete removal of import restrictions from nine to six years. That means all restrictions will be removed by 2003.

"Our agreement creates the potential for New Zealand to begin exporting to India a wide range of agricultural products and some manufactured goods which had previously been effectively blocked." New Zealand's exports to India in the year to June 1997 were worth just over $120 million. Up to now, wool has been our main export to India.

"I hope the agreement we've reached with India will pave the way for a significant expansion of our export trade," Dr Smith said.