M'sia , NZ to check rising timber tariffs
The Borneo Post - Thursday, 5 June 2003

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and New Zealand, both as producers and exporters of forest products, are seeking trade partners' cooperation to check the rising tariffs on timber products.

"We would like t o see tariff peaks to be reduced steadily in the area of forest products so that we have a fair opportunity to add value in our own economy prior to exports," New Zealand's minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton, told reporters at a press conference after making a courtesy call on the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.

Sutton arrived in Malaysia yesterday on a working visit heading a six people delegation, including its deputy secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Richard Grant and acting High Commissioner of New Zealand to Malaysia, David Pine.

He said there was very little competition between Malaysia and New Zealand on forest products as Malaysia specialised in hard woods and New Zealand in soft woods.

"But we (Malaysia and new Zealand) are both concerned over the level of escalating tariffs worldwide. The tariff barriers were pretty widespread in the world," he said.

Touching on other areas during the courtesy call, Sutton said he was anxious to go along with the concept of Malaysia as a "halal" hub for meat.

"I have a better understanding of what is envisaged here and how New Zealand as a major supplier of halal red meat can fit into that concept," he said.

On another note, he said it was important for New Zealand to access markets worldwide as its economy survived on a small population of four million people.

"We can't get the economies of scale in those products that we are good at producing to achieve success without access to the world markets," he said.

Bilateral trade between Malaysia and New Zealand during the period between January and March 2003 stood at RM662 million. Malaysia exports amounted to RM377 million while imports RM285 million.

Trade balance between the two countries stood at RM92 million.

In 2002, total trade amounted to RM2,414 million with exports at RM1,236 million and imports at RM 1,178 million.

Total capital investments from New Zealand for the period of 1997 to 2002 was valued at RM20.7 million in prefabricated metal products and food manufacturing. - Bernama