Un­fair log trade un­der­mines ‘green econ­omy’

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

WOOD MAK­ERS SAY THEIR CON­TRI­BU­TION to help­ing New Zealand be­come a ‘zero car­bon econ­omy’ is be­ing un­der­mined by un­fair trade prac­tices.

At a meet­ing of the Wood Pro­ces­sors and Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand (WPMA) and New Zealand Frame and Truss Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in Ro­torua last month, WPMA Chair­per­son, Brian Stan­ley says the mar­ket is be­ing ma­nip­u­lated in favour of over­seas buyer and man­u­fac­tur­ers.

He points out that de­spite the wood man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try hav­ing all the cre­den­tials of the ‘zero car­bon econ­omy’, with its abil­ity to de­liver good jobs, more re­silient com­mu­ni­ties and a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment, all this is be­ing se­ri­ously un­der­mined by the whole­sale ex­port of raw logs propped up by over­seas sub­si­dies.

WPMA has al­ready pre­sented a case to the gov­ern­ment point­ing out the un­fair­ness of the mar­ket for do­mes­tic logs and Mr Stan­ley adds: “Over­seas buy­ers can pay in­flated prices for logs be­cause they are sup­ported by sub­si­dies. In do­ing this, they are deny­ing lo­cal mills com­pe­ti­tion for logs at fair and sus­tain­able prices.

“If it is some com­fort to you, I can re­port that the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade’s very re­cent in­quiry into this mat­ter has in­deed re­vealed a long list of sub­si­dies be­ing dished out over­seas – sub­si­dies they de­scribe as con­tro­ver­sial un­der WTO law.

“For a coun­try so de­pen­dent on trade and the in­ter­na­tional laws that gov­ern trade this find­ing by our trade of­fi­cials is cru­cially im­por­tant.

“Take fur­ther com­fort from that fact, Trade Min­is­ter, David Parker, has ac­knowl­edged MFAT’s find­ings by com­mis­sion­ing a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the de­gree of harm be­ing caused in the do­mes­tic mar­ket for logs.

“The WPMA is all for free trade, but it must be fair trade and fair trade for all. Right now, our man­u­fac­tur­ers are strug­gling to see the ben­e­fits of free trade agree­ments when they are be­ing stran­gled by WTO-con­tro­ver­sial sub­si­dies. We will be fol­low­ing Hon. Parker’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion very closely.”


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