24 Jul 2013

Backing for PM's drive to get trade talks moving

10:04 am on 24 July 2013

Trade commentators are backing the Prime Minister John Key's efforts to resume trade talks with South Korea, saying New Zealand's exporters are missing out.

South Korea is New Zealand's fifth-largest trading partner, and is an important market for beef and kiwifruit.

Negotiations between New Zealand and South Korea started in 2009, but have been on hold for the past couple of years, though the country has has signed trade agreements with the US and Europe.

Mr Key arrives in the republic on Thursday evening for Korean war commemorations and trade talks.

He says New Zealand's exporters are now at a competitive disadvantage compared with their European and American rivals, and he wants to get the negotiations moving again.

New Zealand's agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says lower tariffs for American red meat exporters means New Zealand beef farmers can't compete.

Mr Petersen says New Zealand's $200 million red meat trade pays tariffs of $61 million just to enter the Asian country. He says products such as beef and kiwifruit are subject to tarriffs of up to 40%.

The New Zealand International Business Forum says the Prime Minister's involvement should help speed up a deal, which could be concluded in less than a year.