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Poll Shows Strong Support For Free Trade Deals

12 July 2002 www.tln.org.nz

94 percent of respondents to an online poll believe that New Zealand should pursue a free trade deal with the United States.

“The results point to strong backing for initiatives aimed at expanding trade and creating better trade rules”, Trade Liberalisation Network Executive Director Stephen Jacobi said today. Mr Jacobi was commenting on the outcome of an online poll conducted by the TLN in the period 28 June-11 July 2002.

510 individuals participated in the poll which was open both to the wider TLN membership as well as the general public. Complete results have been posted to the TLN website www.tln.org.nz.

The poll revealed strong support for trade deals with the US (94% in favour with no ‘don’t knows’), Hong Kong (80%) and with countries with lower wage rates than New Zealand (70 %). “Respondents are saying that free trade agreements bring benefits to New Zealand over and above any risks they might present including competition from lower priced imports” said Mr Jacobi.

Questions related to the World Trade Organisation received a positive but nuanced response. “Respondents saw value in the WTO dispute settlement system which settles trade disputes between countries (71%) but were less convinced that the Uruguay Round of international trade negotiations had benefited the economy with 24% registering a ‘don’t know’. Government agencies must do more to explain what New Zealand gets from the WTO”.

Respondents were divided whether environment and labour should be kept separate from trade deals. “While on the whole there was support for keeping these issues separate, some 18% thought environment should be included and 17% thought labour should be included”.

Over 63% of respondents felt that Maori benefited from trade liberalisation.

Mr Jacobi was gratified about the overall level of support for trade and its impact on economic growth. “Trade is New Zealand’s lifeblood and 82% of respondents agree with this general proposition”, concluded Mr Jacobi.

Ends

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