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Tuesday 26 January 1999
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The United States District Court in San Francisco has lifted an eighteen-month-old injunction against New Zealand's forestry industry which limited its ability to expand its exports to the biggest economy in the world, Trade Minister Lockwood Smith announced today.
The injunction, issued in July 1997, prevented the issue of new import permits, or the renewal or amendment of existing import permits, for non-tropical wood products from New Zealand, Chile and Siberia. It was sought by US environmental groups which claimed these products represented a threat to US biosecurity.
"The court's decision is great news for an industry which has been hit particularly hard by the Asian Economic Crisis," Dr Smith said. "The removal of the injunction will allow the industry to increase its exports to the US from the NZ$120 million achieved in the year to June 1998."
Dr Smith warned, however, that the decision remains subject to appeal by environmental groups. Should the decision be appealed, Dr Smith said New Zealand's Embassy in Washington would continue to work with our forestry industry and the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure that New Zealand's access to the United States market is maintained.
In the year to June 1998, New Zealand's forestry exports were worth $1.38 billion, down 12% from $1.57 billion in the year to June 1997. The top three markets were Japan ($492 million, down 26% from $663 million), Australia ($298 million, up 17% from $254 million), and Korea ($230 million, down 31% from $334 million).