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Amcham to Seek Thaw on US Trade Position

Amcham to Seek Thaw on US Position on Progressing a NZ Free Trade Agreement

The American Chamber of Commerce is disappointed but undeterred by reported comments by the United States Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick that there were “two impediments to moving forward with New Zealand” on a Free Trade Agreement.

Mr Zoellick told a hearing of the House of Agriculture Committee on the status of WTO agricultural negotiations that the Bush administration intended to move forward with Australia, but “New Zealand was a challenge”.

Reports cited Mr Zoellick as saying that many of New Zealand’s exports to the US were very sensitive such as dairy and lamb, which “would not be easy to carry”.

“Secondly, in terms of the overall relationship, things have been done recently by New Zealand which make an FTA harder to carry,” the senior trade official is quoted as saying, confirming again foreign policy and security concerns are influential factors behind which countries the United States will choose as free trade partners.

AmCham President, Michael Stanley, said the New Zealand Chamber, would take the lobby for a US-NZ Free Trade Agreement to Washington in June to present the case direct to Bush Administration officials and Congress.

“We will continue to work with Washington and Wellington as well as US corporates, the US-NZ Council and the Asia-Pacific American Chambers of Commerce Council to gain traction.

“Members have contributed to a fighting fund to contribute to the lobby and we will ensure that we put it to good use in presenting the case for New Zealand as a worthy Free Trade partner by demonstrating the mutual commercial trade benefits for both countries and leave the politics to others.”

Mr Stanley said that AmCham was in the process of surveying US companies in New Zealand on key issues with a focus on gaining a measure of business and investment confidence in the economy and environment.

“Our role is to promote trade, investment and business relationships between New Zealand and the United States and to use our voice and international networks to influence government and policymakers to develop attractive climates for bilateral business. We expect to have the results of the survey later next month and will present them to government with ideas on what can be done to make this country a more competitive business option.”

Mr Stanley was reappointed president for a second term at yesterday’s (May 21) annual general meeting of AmCham, along with current directors Andrew Au, Chief Executive, Citigroup Inc; Alister Brown, Managing Director, Merck Sharp and Dohme (NZ) Ltd, Ken Eagle, Managing Director, The Cambridge Group; Brian Lynch, Executive Director, Meat Industry Association of New Zealand (Inc); Eric Mahoney, Director, Porterville Ventures Ltd; Jonathan Mason, Chief Financial Officer, Carter Holt Harvey Ltd; Denham Shale, Company Director; and Mike Hearn, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand.

Joining the Board are Laurie Altman, Managing Director, 3M NZ Ltd; Tim Goodacre, Chief Executive, ZESPRI International Ltd; Professor Judith Kinnear, Vice-Chancellor, Massey University; and Richard Matheson, Managing Director, Ford Motor Company of New Zealand ltd.

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