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US trade decision 'great news' says AmCham

For Immediate Release

US trade decision 'great news' says AmCham

Auckland (February 5 2008) - The United States decision to get involved in forging a trade accord involving New Zealand is a major milestone in the quest for a US-NZ free trade agreement, says the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand (AmCham).

AmCham Executive Director Mike Hearn said it was great news that the US will join negotiations on financial services and investment with the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, or P4 group of countries that includes Chile, Singapore and Brunei along with New Zealand.

"While the focus will be on financial services and investment, it is enormously significant that the US at the same time announced it will look at whether to participate in full free-trade agreement negotiations with the P4 countries."

He added that AmCham, which assists member companies to do business between the US and New Zealand, was one of a diverse range of New Zealand and US interests that had been lobbying hard for a free-trade agreement for nearly 10 years now.

"This announcement is the first real breakthrough and a credit to the concerted efforts of government groups, business leaders and organizations that have worked hard over the years."
Mr Hearn said initiatives had included participation for a number of years in the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce annual Washington DC Doorknock to lobby Congress and the Administration and supporting missions by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Trade Minister Phil Goff to the US last year.

"The will to establish a free-trade agreement was also central to thinking at the US-NZ Partnership Forum held here in Auckland last year."

Mr Hearn said AmCham planned to be back in Washington DC again this year prior to the US elections to ensure the support for the new initiative leads to the ultimate goal of achieving a fully fledged free-trade agreement between New Zealand and the US.

ENDS

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