Govt fails to get exemption from US tariffs

The Herald reports:

Trade Minister David Parker has been unable to secure an exemption from US steel and aluminium import taxes but says his officials will continue lobbying New Zealand’s case.

But Parker was not sounding optimistic about their chances of winning US trade officials over, telling the Herald “the longer it goes on without being resolved, the less confident we would be” of securing an exemption.

Parker spent the better part of this week in Washington DC “advancing New Zealand’s interests in reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)” as well as advocating for an exemption to US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The tariffs were imposed in March this year – soon after, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote a letter to US President Donald Trump pleading New Zealand’s case for an exemption.

Speaking from Ottawa, Parker said he had presented a “strong case” for New Zealand receiving an exemption but was not able to reach an agreement.

If things develop into a full trade war, then things will be much more serious for us.

But Parker said this was not a surprise, given trade officials advised him before his trip it would be unlikely the issue would be solved through face-to-face meetings.

“[This is] because no one else has been able to – be it [Japanese] Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, the Europeans or Mexico.”

This is misleading. Quite a few countries have gained exemptions. They include Japan, Thailand, Germany, the UK, Sweden and South Korea.

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