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NZ-US Free Trade Agreement – Still Achievable

Nz-Us Free Trade Agreement – Still Achievable

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and member of the NZ-US Council, was commenting on US reports of that country’s intention to not link New Zealand into the Australian-US Free Trade Agreement negotiations which were launched today.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick also said he didn’t think a parallel but separate negotiation with New Zealand was a prospect at this time.

The US reports cited two impediments to moving forward with New Zealand:

NZ’s exports to the US such as dairy and lamb were “very sensitive”; and, Things have been done recently by NZ which make an FTA harder to carry.

Commenting, Mr Barnett said that the agricultural impediment between the United States and Australia was a tougher issue than between the United States and New Zealand. He pointed out that as well as dairy and lamb, Australia has substantial beef and grain exports to the United States.

On the second point, Mr Barnett said the remarks were clearly code for US concern over the recent relationship between New Zealand and the United States.

“We should not run away from this fact,” he said. “However at the same time we should recognise when NZ entered into the bid for a FTA negotiation with the United States, we knew it would be tough and take time.”

Mr Barnett said recent events should not be allowed to diminish our determination to ultimately win a FTA negotiation with the US. “In fact the resolve of the Chamber has been strengthened to work on building stronger links in Washington and in NZ’s business community for a FTA.”

He confirmed intentions to appoint an experienced chief executive officer to develop a NZ-US FTA campaign.

He remained convinced that the depth in the NZ-US business relationship, and in particular at Chambers of Commerce level, would help change US political expectations towards New Zealand.

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