Local Industry Body Says it Has Evidence of Potato ‘Dumping’ in NZ
There is evidence of European-produced potato fries being ‘dumped’ in the New Zealand market at a loss, says industry body Potatoes NZ, who warns the ‘bad faith’ practice threatens local businesses and must be stopped.
COVID-19 lockdowns and less people eating out have slowed demand for hot potato chips in European restaurants, and left their suppliers with a glut on their hands. Late last year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) launched an investigation into the dumping of cheap frozen fries from Europe. It was prompted by evidence presented by Potatoes New Zealand, whose chief executive Chris Claridge told Morning Report the preliminary findings are due to be published by MBIE next month.
“What we do have on record is that one processor from Europe has admitted dumping – admitted having surplus inventory and selling the surpluses to New Zealand, and has indicated that they’ve got the ability to sell more. The European market wasn’t able to sell 500,000 tons of frozen fries last year, that have to find a home somewhere. At the same time, Europe has increased their plantings, they’re at record plantings,” he said. “So this threat to our industry is real, it’s continuing, and we’re very keen to see the government act. We believe there should be temporary tariffs to overcome what is happening.”
Claridge also said the producers are experiencing real problems off-shore as well, where the Europeans have also increased their exports. “We’re seeing a reduction of about 20% of our exports worldwide,” he said.
Any actions taken by the Government to relieve the situation will be decided against the backdrop of New Zealand’s ongoing free trade negotiations with both the United Kingdom and European Union.
“These actions do not cut into free trade arrangements. Our legislation must fit within WTO regulations. What people have to realize is that you can’t be nervous about taking these actions, and also any retaliatory action against New Zealand is again in breach of WTO rules.”