19 Oct 2011

Good and bad in US deals - NZ trade rep

6:29 am on 19 October 2011

A New Zealand agricultural trade representative sees mostly pluses but some minuses for this country in the latest US free trade agreements.

Special agricultural trade envoy Alistair Polson says the deals with Panama, Columbia and South Korea ratified by Congress last week had been "languishing" for a long time and it was good news because it suggested the Americans wanted to do something about trade.

He says, with those out of the way, the United States could now concentrate on the negotiations that interest New Zealand most - the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks involving Washington and other Asian and Pacific nations.

However, Mr Polson says the US free trade deal with South Korea is not such good news for New Zealand in that it will increase competition for this country's beef trade there.

He says American beef will became more competitive as the tariffs come off and he believes South Korea might then move on to discussions with Australia on a free trade deal, adding to the competition.

But on the brighter side, Mr Polson says that, as the Seoul government concludes one trade agreement, it means New Zealand will move up the queue for potential Korean trade pacts.