30 Jun 2010

Controversy over import tax for NZ lamb in New Caledonia

8:59 am on 30 June 2010

A decision from New Caledonia authorities to raise the import tax for frozen lamb, the bulk of which comes from New Zealand, has upset some local importers.

Local authorities last week announced the import tax on frozen lamb in New Caledonia would rise from 6 percent to 33 percent.

One local importer, the General Manager of the Bargibant Company, Frédéric Drouet, described the move as "fiscal discrimination" to local television.

The move comes three months after a court ruling effectively broke the monopoly in New Caledonia previously enjoyed by public company OCEF.

Mr Drouet said that protectionist measures could only be understood if there was a local production to protect.

He claims that New Caledonian farmers only produce eight tonnes of lamb per year, for a total annual consumption of six hundred and fifty tonnes.

New Caledonia's government has so far not commented on the issue.

New Zealand's foreign minister Murray McCully is expected to visit New Caledonia later this week.