ANZCER Talks 25 November 19801
New Zealand stated its basic position that agricultural commodities should fall within the general CER arrangement. Australia raised several problems in this area.
- Fruit Distributors Ltd. The monopoly importing role of Fruit Distributions in New Zealand was seen to disadvantage Australian exporters especially with regard to citrus products where Fruit Distributors has an obligation to protect the domestic industry.
- Wheat. Again Australia objected to the NZ Wheat Board being obliged to first purchase the domestic crop so that Australia is only a residual supplier. New Zealand officials argued that as the prices paid to farmers in both countries tend to be the same, the role of the NZ Wheat Board presents no problems.
- Peas and beans. These products are currently subject to an industry panel arrangement which limits exports to Australia. The Australians argued for a continuation of this arrangement. New Zealand officials could not accept that peas and beans, or other vegetables, should be treated as special cases and argued for the phasing out of the existing arrangement.
- Dairying. The Australians argued that their stabilisation arrangements, which involve the imposition of a levy on dairy products, place their industry at a disadvantage relative to New Zealand. It was pointed out by New Zealand officials that this was a crucial issue in the whole exercise and that the objective was unrestricted duty-free access of the dairy products to the Australian market. Currently the only restrictions relate to cheddar, which should be liberalised according to the arrangement, and any imposition of constraints would be strenuously opposed. The Australians could see cheddar being subject to the arrangement but expressed concern that New Zealand penetration of their market would not proceed in an 'orderly' fashion. They are to spell out their position on dairying and other agricultural products in a paper.
There was an exchange of lists of deferred items. It was pointed out that the New Zealand list was merely a catalogue from which an ultimate deferred list would be selected. It consists largely of goods under industry study and items on which representations had been received. The Australian list also includes goods under industry study but in addition includes several products which involve possible 'intermediate goods' problems. Among the latter are several of special interest to New Zealand such as textiles, clothing, whiteware and several plastic products. It was indicated by the Australians that some of these goods would be taken off the deferred list once arrangements had been formulated under the safeguard provisions already agreed for such goods. New Zealand officials pointed out that several of these goods have been export winners and are [of] particular concern. Some may have been included on the deferred list as a means of placing pressure on New Zealand to resolve outstanding questions on access.
Among the matters discussed were general safeguards to be incorporated in the agreement and industry rationalisation.
[ABHS 950/Boxes1221-1226, 40/4/1 Part 31 Archives New Zealand/Te Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]