The government has asked the New Zealand ambassador in Washington to clarify whether this country's exports will be hit by US President Donald Trump's surprise tariff announcement on steel and aluminium.
US President Donald Trump.
Source: 1 NEWS
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has told US media the tariffs will be "across the board" but ambassador Tim Groser is seeking official answers.
"I don't think we've had a response yet," Trade Minister David Parker told RNZ today.
The US says the tariffs - 25 per cent on steel imports into the US and 10 per cent on aluminium - are needed to protect jobs, but Mr Parker said he understood new technology was behind the job losses.
In 2016, New Zealand exported $985 million worth of aluminium and $646m of steel, or about 2.3 per cent of exports. Some went to the US.
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser speaking to ONE News.
Source: 1 NEWS
Steel and aluminium were not a large part of NZ's exports, although it was important to the companies concerned, Mr Parker said.
"The wider concern is that we've rising protectionism in the world and threats of retaliation," he said.
"It's important to show restraint so that these retaliations don't spiral into further escalation of trade wars."
New Zealand economy would suffer in a wider global trade war, he said.
The long-term effects of trade wars were quite destabilising - when countries "divorced" in trade it could lead to deteriorating international relations, he said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, during his recent talks at the White House with Mr Trump, said Australia has a "very compelling case" to avoid the US tariffs.
Australian ambassador to the US Joe Hockey has also been attempting to clarify Mr Trump's stance.