No exceptions for tariffs under TPP

The Trans Pacific Partnership must eliminate all tariffs on agricultural and seafood products:

A coalition of 18 New Zealand agricultural and food organisations, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Fonterra Cooperative Group, has written to the Ministers of Trade and Primary Industries outlining its concern that some TPP members are seeking to avoid tariff elimination on some products.

The letter sets out to Ministers Tim Groser and Nathan Guy that the coalition will not support a TPP agreement that does not include comprehensive liberalisation in the agricultural and seafood sectors by all participating countries.

The group says it is vital that the agreement provides comprehensive tariff elimination as set out in the objectives of the 2011 TPP Leaders meeting in Honolulu. The group is concerned that:

  • If any one country is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unravelling of the agreement.
  • Allowing any one country to claim an exception for “sensitive” products sets a dangerous precedent for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking to join the TPP Agreement at a future date.

A Ministerial meeting to discuss TPP issues is expected to be held in late February 2014.

A little exception for some tariffs would be like being a little bit pregnant – it wouldn’t stop there.

Tariffs protect the inefficient at the cost of better producers .

They also add costs for consumers who pay more and have less choice.

An immediate end to all tariffs might be unrealistic but the TPP must ensure that is the goal that must be reached sooner rather than later.

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