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New Zealand wines to gain duty-free access to major markets under TPP: trade minister

WELLINGTON, April 7 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand wines, the country's sixth biggest export product, will gain duty-free access to seven new countries under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, Trade Minister Todd McClay said Thursday.

New Zealand already sold almost 1 billion NZ dollars (681.6 million U.S. dollars) worth of wine into the 11 other TPP countries, McClay said in a published speech to exporters in the Marlborough region at the top of the South Island.

"The United States is New Zealand's biggest wine exporting destination and it, alone, is worth almost half a billion dollars (341 million U.S. dollars) each year. We have never achieved duty-free access, but now, under TPP, that is exactly what we get -- and almost all of those tariffs are eliminated on entry into force," said McClay.

The seven new duty-free markets would be the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam.

"New Zealand winegrowers have been subject to heavy tariffs, particularly in emerging markets. Mexico currently has a 20-percent tariff and Vietnam has a 50-percent tariff. The reduction, and eventual elimination, of these tariffs will encourage our winegrowers into new markets," said McClay.

"However, there are also major gains in some of our biggest markets. We export more than 100 million NZ dollars (68.2 million U.S. dollars) of wine into Canada each year -- all tariffs are eliminated as soon as TPP comes into force."

New Zealand wine exports reached a record 1.54 billion NZ dollars (1.05 billion U.S. dollars) last year, up 14 percent on 2014, according to the New Zealand Winegrowers industry group.

The value of exports to the United States rose 26 percent to 430 million NZ dollars (293.26 million U.S. dollars) and exports to Canada were up 18 percent.