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Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement

5 August 2004

AUSTRALIA BEATS NEW ZEALAND IN HELPING BUSINESS ACCESS THE UNITED STATES

The signing of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) last night has the potential to make life tougher for New Zealand businesses.

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, was sending out a warning that New Zealand risks being left out in the cold in business and trade arrangements between the United States and this part of the world.

“An FTA between Australia and the US will be interpreted by investors, trade interests and business as making it easier to do business with each other. Because NZ doesn’t have an FTA with the United States, we could tend to get left out of things,” said Mr Barnett.

While it is good to see that the Government is front footing achieving a free trade agreement with China, which could leave Australia out in the cold if we sign up before they do, Mr Barnett said that the business community needed to redouble its efforts to encourage the Government and business to build a campaign to secure an FTA with Washington without delay.

Earlier reports have indicated that an FTA between Australia and the USA that left New Zealand out of the equation could lead to distortion and weakening in trans-Tasman trade and relationships – “obviously, this would be disastrous to New Zealand and not in anyone’s interests – Australia’s, the USA’s nor New Zealand’s.

ENDS

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