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NZ US Council delighted with US P4 announcement

MEDIA RELEASE
5 February 2008

NZ US Council delighted with US P4 announcement

The NZ US Council today welcomed the announcement that the United States was prepared to join negotiations on financial services and investment with the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership or “P4” group which includes New Zealand, Singapore, Chile and Brunei.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab has also said the US will begin a “detailed exploratory process” to determine whether it should participate in full free trade negotiations with P4.

“This is a positive development” said Council Chairman Rt Hon James Bolger. “This is the first time the United States has ever committed to commence negotiations with New Zealand. The negotiations on financial services and investment could lead to a full free trade agreement. If successful, that would ultimately put New Zealand on a level playing field with competitors in the American market, lead to improved market access and higher returns”.

Mr Bolger said the NZ US Council and its partners in both government and the private sector had been working towards a free trade agreement with the United States since the Council’s inception in 2001.

“The Council has consistently advocated that a free trade agreement between the United States and New Zealand would make sense for both parties. The United States can find no better ally in the cause for global freer trade than New Zealand. The P4 agreement crosses the Pacific and should provide an important signal for other partners especially in APEC.”

Mr Bolger said that in recent years the Council had turned its attention to strengthening the overall relationship with the United States.

“Two successive Partnership Forum events, one in Washington in April 2006 and one in Auckland in September 2007, effectively built the momentum for a much improved relationship. As a result New Zealand now boasts a high level constituency in the United States that is fully aware of the value of the relationship with New Zealand”.

Mr Bolger said that in the coming year the Council would focus on supporting the P4 process and contributing the views of the private sector to government negotiators.

“Trade Minister Goff and officials are to be congratulated for getting us this far. Moving forward, government and business will need to work closely together to ensure that all New Zealand’s key interests are taken into account”.

ENDS

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