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Bilateralism No Alternative To Multilateralism

26 April 2006

Bilateralism No Alternative To Multilateral Liberalisation

The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce is concerned that as a result of the WTO failing to meet another deadline in the Doha Round, that some around the world are talking about putting all negotiating effort into bilateral FTA negotiations.

"The Chamber supports bilateral and regional FTA negotiations, but these are no substitute for multilateral liberalisation in the WTO. Rather than being a substitute these negotiations are an important complement. Bilateral negotiations can achieve some things that the WTO can't achieve - complete free access for our exports to China for example. But there are things that the WTO only can achieve - such as the abolition of export subsidies and reductions in domestic subsidies. A good outcome on subsidies is incredibly important - for New Zealand and the wider global economy", said Charles Finny, Chamber CEO.

"A number of serious players were talking last week in Washington about the possibility of failure in the WTO Round. This prospect is being held out by a number of commentators around the world. Prominent politicians in the United States are also talking about moving resources from the WTO negotiations to bilateral negotiations. These views are a deep concern to the Chamber."

"We hope that Governments will take the failure to meet the end of April deadline as a wake up call. Rather than shift resources to the bilateral track, we would like to see more intensive effort in Geneva and key capitals.

There is a good outcome on the table on abolishing export subsidies. The focus of the negotiations from here on in should be on building a package of measures in other areas which are sufficient to secure the EU offer that was put on the table in Hong Kong. We hope New Zealand will lead this effort. For our part, the Chamber will be working with Chambers of Commerce around the world and other groupings such as the Global Services Coalition to encourage a goodoutcome from these important negotiations", Charles Finny concluded.

Please direct any queries to Matt Crawford, 0275 448 940.

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