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Expand Free Trade Network to the Rest of N Asia

Press Release

Expand Free Trade Network to the Rest of North Asia

In a speech today to the Institute of Chartered Secretaries, Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Charles Finny called on the Government to expand efforts to establish FTA linkages with all of North Asia – not just China.

The speech praised the Government’s achievements in securing FTAs with Singapore and Thailand and for launching negotiations with China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and all of ASEAN. It noted that once all these negotiations were completed there would be an obvious gap in our FTA linkages – Japan, Korea and Taiwan – all in our top 10 economic partnerships. Finny called for the Government to do all it can to prepare the way for a new relationship with Japan and Korea. On Taiwan, he commented that the economic relationship was a very important one for New Zealand and the world economy. Taiwan should remain on our target list he said, however, he stressed that was a special case that required delicate handling.

Finny suggested that New Zealand follow Australia’s example and begin the process by negotiating trade and economic frameworks with Japan and Korea. He suggested that these frameworks focus on what might be possible in the near term rather than on what was still politically difficult for the Japanese and Korean Governments. He suggested that by “shifting the paradigm from agriculture first to agriculture eventually” progress might indeed prove possible in the services and investment area. Longer term Finny hoped that all goods could become the focus of negotiation. With New Zealand largely complementary and counter-seasonal to the agriculture sectors of both Japan and Korea (and with there being no production of rice in New Zealand) Finny saw the eventual negotiation of an FTA covering all goods as possible in the longer term. He also noted that the age of the average farmer in Japan and Korea was already “advanced and advancing all the time.” “Eventually agriculture must become less politically sensitive in both countries.”

“Given that 68% of New Zealand’s GDP and a large proportion of New Zealand’s exports to Japan and Korea are generated by the services sector, and given that investment is such a significant part of our bilateral relationship with these countries –services and investment seem a pretty sensible place to start deepening relations with Japan and Korea” Finny said.

The full text of the speech can be found on www.wgtn-chamber.co.nz

ENDS

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