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4 Of 10 WTO Negotiations Principles Not Relevant

Fourth of Ten Guiding Principles for WTO Services Negotiations No Longer Relevant

Press release from Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce
23 March 2006 -

Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Charles Finny today agreed with questions being asked by CTU President Ross Wilson about the continuing application of ten guiding principles adopted by the New Zealand Government in 2003 during the preparation of New Zealand’s Initial Services Offer for the WTO Doha Round.

“Much has happened since 2003, and with negotiations moving fast and past the initial offer stage, the Chamber questions the relevance of the fourth of these principles”, Charles Finny commented.

“The fourth of these principles stated that “the Government does not intend to make any initial offers to change actual current policy settings..”. This was fine for the initial stages of the negotiation, but inappropriate for the current stage, when actual liberalisation is in prospect. If every WTO member adopted New Zealand’s 2003 position, there would be no liberalisation flowing from these negotiations on services. No liberalisation of services would be a disappointing outcome for New Zealand service exporters – exporters responsible for 30% of New Zealand’s total exports, and companies that are responsible for close to 70% of New Zealand’s GDP. Clearly, however, New Zealand would not be wanting to liberalise any policies, unless we were getting something pretty fantastic in return.”

“Major players such as the EU have also made it clear that without a good outcome on services and non-agricultural market access, a good outcome on agriculture will not be possible. Achieving a good outcome on agriculture must remain a key interest for New Zealand. We don’t want an overly conservative approach on services to stand in the way of a good outcome across the board” Charles Finny continued.

“I was a little surprised at Ross Wilson’s recently expressed concern at my recent comments on India’s WTO position on US website TCS Daily (www.tcsdaily.com)”, Charles Finny continued. “I do believe that India’s active involvement in the WTO services negotiations is a very positive development. It is positive for the overall WTO Round. However, I have never endorsed the detail of any aspect of the negotiating position being adopted by India in these negotiations. While I think that it is time to dump New Zealand’s guiding principle four, I remain fully supportive of the other nine. Organised labour can rest easy,” Charles Finny concluded.

ENDS

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