169 Minute from Clark to Muldoon

Wellington, 12 May 1981

Phasing out of Import Licensing

I am concerned that the starkness of the New Zealand position on import licensing either has not been conveyed to Mr Anthony or he is ignoring it.1 I think our position is probably worth repeating direct from you to him. You might like to consider making the following points:

  • Mr Anthony suggested that further persuasion might get our manufacturers to agree to a terminal date. The Government has yet to persuade the manufacturers to a continuing movement towards unrestricted access. Their position is that the review five years out should be one which determines whether movement continues or not.
  • The gradual and progressive elimination of import licensing is real, visible and certain. The New Zealand Government can persuade manufacturers to wear that. To seek to persuade them beyond that point would mean a completely new round of consultations with industry, and that in itself could create a counter-productive atmosphere.
  • Import licensing has been embedded in the minds of New Zealand manufacturers in the past 40 years. It has been a great achievement to move them so far.
  • The immediate benefits to Australia can be measured in financial terms. The first year's additional access figure would be upwards of $50m increased by 10 per cent, real, a year.
  • In the initial years Australia should sell up to this access if for no other reason than the novelty of competitive goods in many areas.
  • Mr Anthony spoke of imbalanced trading opportunities. In the eyes of New Zealand manufacturers without some initial tilt to New Zealand the trading opportunities are all one sided-in favour of the bigger and more pervasive Australian competitor.2

[ABHS 950/Boxes1221-1226, 40/4/1 Part 36 Archives New Zealand/Te Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]