Information for Exporters and SMEs

The 15 countries involved in RCEP include 10 members of ASEAN and five countries ASEAN has free trade agreements with.

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Tariff reductions 

New Zealand has existing FTAs with all the RCEP countries which have already eliminated tariffs on most New Zealand exports.  This means RCEP does not deliver significant new market access for goods exports as a result of tariff cuts.  RCEP does, however, reduce tariff barriers for New Zealand exporters into Indonesia for the following products:

  • elimination of the 5% unbound tariff on beef exports (other cuts with bone in), and all sheep meat exports
  • elimination of the 5% applied MFN tariff and 2.5% reduced ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) tariff on preserved and prepared meat exports
  • elimination of the 10% applied MFN tariff and 5% reduced AANZFTA tariff on table salt exports
  • elimination of the 15% applied MFN tariff and 7.5% reduced AANZFTA tariff on fish and fish product exports
  • elimination of the 5% applied  MFN tariff and 4% reduced AANZFTA tariff on liquid milk, grated or powdered cheese, honey, avocados, tomatoes, persimmons, and many manufactured goods (including  ships’ or boats’ propellers and blades, pumps, motors and electrical circuit boards).

Find out more on our Tariff Finder website(external link) 

Addressing non-tariff barriers

RCEP contains enhanced trade facilitation measures and other provisions that respond to concerns raised by New Zealand goods exporters regarding non-tariff barriers impacting trade. Many of these outcomes improve the status quo under existing FTAs such as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), and extend some of the high standards contained in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to a broader set of New Zealand’s trading partners. These outcomes will lower compliance costs, reduce the time exporters spend waiting for goods to clear customs, and enhance transparency and predictability for businesses operating in the RCEP region.

Some examples include:

  • enhanced transparency on import licensing procedures
  • commitments to facilitate future tariff transpositions of the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS)
  • a forum for cooperation on good regulatory practice in relation to measures affecting trade in goods. The Goods chapter provides an avenue for New Zealand to address non-tariff barriers maintained by an RCEP country by providing for a consultation mechanism with clear and predictable processes and timeframes. There is also provision for a future work programme on sectoral initiatives, which provides an opportunity to seek further sector-specific obligations aimed at reducing unnecessary barriers to trade in sectors of interest to New Zealand, such as wine and cosmetics.

How to claim Tariff benefits (Certificates of origin outcomes)

Under RCEP, exporters will have a number of options on the type of proof of origin documentation they can use. These include:

  • Third party issued certificates of origin;
  • Self-declaration by approved exporters; and
  • Self-declaration by exporters and producers (subject to an implementation period) will all be available. 

Overall, the Schedule of Product Specific Rules will provide traders with co-equal value add or change in tariff classification rules. This reflects New Zealand’s preferred approach.

Find out more on our Tariff Finder website(external link) 

Other improvements for goods exporters

  • RCEP’s Customs Procedures and Cooperation chapter draws on important trade facilitation principles from the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and is designed to facilitate trade through the simplification and streamlining of customs and border procedures. The chapter will provide predictability and transparency of importing and exporting processes.  These benefits are particularly significant for economies such as New Zealand, with a large proportion of Small and Medium Businesses (SMEs) – given that higher trade administration and transaction costs are a bigger challenge for SMEs than for larger enterprises.
  • A Standards, Technical Regulations, and Conformity Assessment Procedures chapter which includes provisions to enhance transparency in the development of technical barriers to trade (TBT) measures in the RCEP region and promote greater regulatory cooperation and good regulatory practice. In the longer-term, this is expected to lead to regulatory frameworks in RCEP markets that would make it easier for New Zealand exporters to determine the requirements for exporting. The chapter also has provisions to minimize the adverse effects regulations can have on trade by reducing transaction costs for businesses, and to provide mechanisms for Parties to address specific trade issues with the aim of reducing or eliminating unnecessary TBTs.
  • A Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) chapter which upholds the WTO SPS Agreement and facilitates trade while also preserving New Zealand’s existing biosecurity and food safety regimes. The RCEP SPS chapter provides better outcomes than AANZFTA in a number of trade-facilitating ways including in relation to:
    • equivalence - encouraging importing parties to accept that New Zealand goods meet their SPS requirements if New Zealand demonstrates that its SPS measures achieve the same level of protection – i.e. equivalent, without having to be identical; regionalization (promoting acceptance of regional conditions, including pest- or disease-free areas and areas of low pest or disease prevalence);
    • emergency measures - if a Party adopts an emergency SPS measure that impacts New Zealand’s trade, it is required to hold discussions on request and take due account of information provided;
    • transparency - the SPS chapter contains several provisions which require Parties to provide documents in English, a better outcome than both CPTPP and AANZFTA.
    • A Trade Remedies chapter which preserves New Zealand’s rights and obligations under relevant WTO agreements (the Agreement on Anti-Dumping, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, and the Agreement on Safeguards). It confirms that WTO rules will apply to the application of global safeguards and to the administration of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on trade between RCEP Parties. The chapter also sets out non-binding guidance on best practices to enhance transparency and due process in anti-dumping and countervailing duty proceedings, which will be beneficial to New Zealand exporters wishing to access trade remedy proceedings in RCEP countries. This includes guidance for providing opportunities to remedy or explain deficiencies in requests for information, procedures for offering and concluding undertakings, and providing public notices and explanations for determinations.

Supporting SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy. Yet SMEs often face challenges when it comes to exporting. Non-tariff measures have become a dominant feature of international trade as tariffs have gradually been lowered or removed. These have a disproportionate impact on SMEs wanting to export due to the increased costs, and multitude, of burdensome compliance requirements that can generally be more easily absorbed by large-scale firms.

We want to help New Zealand SMEs to succeed in international markets. If you’re experiencing issues with exporting, you can request government support by registering a trade barrier (external link) or find out which government agency can help you.

You can also get in touch with us at the MFAT Exporter Helpline 0800 824 605 or email

RCEP’s Small and Medium Enterprises chapter will help New Zealand SMEs become aware of the opportunities created by the Agreement and enable them to access information on a Party’s domestic laws and regulations. RCEP Parties have committed to creating and maintaining a website to share knowledge, experiences and best practices among the RCEP Parties. RCEP Parties have also agreed to strengthen their cooperation through:

  • Improving SME’s access to markets and participation in global value chains, including by promoting and facilitating partnerships among businesses:
  • Promoting the use of e-commerce by SMEs;
  • Exploring opportunities for exchanges of experiences among RCEP Parties’ entrepreneurial programmes, and;
  • Encouraging innovation and the use of technology. 

Resources for SMEs

The following information may be useful for SMEs trading, investing or doing business in New Zealand:


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