New Zealand’s forestry export industry is losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually because of tariffs and other barriers, according to Forest Industries Council chief executive Stephen Jacobi.

He said higher tariffs on processed wood than logs and barriers such as building codes are preventing New Zealand from processing more timber. He estimated the industry faces NZ$40m in tariffs and NZ$175m in other barriers annually.

Mr Jacobi and a group of international forest industry representatives which he chairs put forward ideas for resolving trade barriers at a recent meeting in Geneva with the World Trade Organisation‘s (WTO) non-agricultural market access negotiation group.

The group suggested small groups of interested countries be formed to find solutions which could be taken up by the WTO.

It recommends starting with building and construction, looking at issues including standards, quality assurance, testing methods, building codes and enforcement.