For a long time now I've been meaning to find out. And now, thanks to Idiot/Savant's mention of a list of tariffs on the internet, I kind of have.
It seems that tampons currently have no tariff on them at all. Pads, referred to as "sanitary towels" in the Customs documents, do have a 5% tariff on them. Quite why this is I couldn't discover, so if anyone else can tell me please do spill the beans.
However the 5% tariff is waived for countries of origin with whom we have free trade agreements that cover these products, except for China, whose tariff is being gradually reduced to zero over the next few years, presumably as a result of the Free Trade Agreement signed with them under the last Government.
In order to see if the countries with the waiver were also countries we were importing pads from I did some exhaustive research by spending max. 2 minutes at the supermarket yesterday checking out the packaging of all the pads I could see for sale in the relevant aisle at the Onehunga Countdown. Wriggly was with me, so it wasn't a stealth mission. None of the pads I looked at (at least one type from each brand on the shelf) were made in Aotearoa.
Countries pads were imported from:
- Thailand - tariff free under the ASEAN-Australia-NZ FTA
- Vietnam - tariff free under the ASEAN-Australia-NZ FTA
- EU - no tariff exemption that I could see, therefore presume 5% tariff applies
- Australia - tariff free under several different FTAs
- China - tariff still in place - currently 2.6%, will go down to 1.3% from January 2011, then zero from January 2012