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Trade Deal with Taiwan to Benefit Mussel Farmers

16 July 2013

NEW ZEALAND - According to an international negotiator, New Zealand and Taiwan have signed an economic partnership, leading to another new market for Marlborough greenshell mussel farmers.

According to Marlborough Express, Seafood New Zealand international policy and market access manager Alastair Macfarlane said the signing of the agreement would result in seafood tariffs being eliminated within eight years.

According to Mr Macfarlane, the trade in mussels to Taiwan was about $5 million a year. It was not huge but in the context of the total trade with Taiwan of about $13m in seafood sales each year, it was significant, he said. Tariffs ranged between 30 and 50 per cent.

"It's indicative of just how protected the Taiwanese market is for the import of seafood," he said.

The tariffs on mussels would take eight years to be removed, Mr Macfarlane said, so "nothing would happen in a hurry".

However, it meant a viable alternative market for mussels would be available, and that was positive. "It's useful . . . It's not going to be a bonanza, but it is going to continue the expansion of mussel farms, because of the increase in potential markets."

In the short-term, China would continue to be a more attractive seafood market, he said. However, it would be a useful signal to South Korea and other protected Asian markets that food suppliers had alternatives.

Mr Macfarlane said all of New Zealand's seafood trade interests with Taiwan had been fully included in the agreement. All seafood items will be able to enter Taiwan tariff-free within eight years - with many products benefiting much earlier.

Seafood New Zealand understood that the trade in seafood products had been one of the more sensitive product sectors for Taiwan, Mr Macfarlane said, and the group welcomed the commitment of the Taiwanese Government to liberalise this trade.

"The agreement will help to restore the New Zealand seafood sector's competitive advantage as a supplier to a market that appreciates high-quality, sustainable seafood."

TheFishSite News Desk

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