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Gatt Watchdog On Lamb Tariffs


July 8 1999

GATT Watchdog sends playing cards, handkerchief to Lockwood over lamb tariff debacle

GATT Watchdog is sending Minister for International Trade, Lockwood Smith, a personalised handkerchief and pack of playing cards in recognition at his commitment to a failed, flawed, free trade fairytale in light of the US administration's decision to impose a 9% tariff on New Zealand lamb exports.

"After wiping his trademark grin from his face, and having a little cry with his new hankie, we hope Lockwood will sit down and have a game of strip poker with himself outside in the cold now that the US government has moved to impose tariffs on New Zealand lamb exports. After all, successive New Zealand governments, in their zeal to "lead from the front" in unilateral trade liberalisation have been playing strip poker with themselves at the expense of New Zealand communities for many years. And in spite of all his promises and claims to the contrary, few of our major trading partners can be said to be playing along," says Aziz Choudry, of GATT Watchdog

"The National Government's plan to use September's APEC Leaders Summit as a taxpayer-funded pre-election photo-opportunity looks doomed to failure. Perhaps its best bet would be to declare war on the USA. Other countries have gone to war over less - and through its work-for-the-dole scheme it might be able to temporarily disguise New Zealand's unemployment and underemployment statistics by drafting unemployed workers to invade the USA and hurl frozen lambchops at unsuspecting US trade officials! National's ratings in the polls stand more chance of a lift through a unilateral declaration of war than through the millions of dollars being spent to host the APEC talkfest."

"The pressure is on to include agricultural negotiations in the upcoming World Trade Organisation round which will start later this year. And as the government panics about the fragility of APEC, this US decision and Dr Smith's utterances on the subject bring home the stark reality behind the feelgood rhetoric of the global free market economy and the myths of the level playing field.

"The US has always taken the attitude - "do as we say, not as we do" in trade and investment negotiations. Its bottom line is to protect its economic and political interests. To think otherwise would be to live in a fairyland. But unfortunately, as many people have discovered to our own cost, New Zealand's unilateral trade and investment liberalisation has not led to a fairytale ending, but to a dog-eat-dog, deregulated world where economic growth is pursued for its own sake. As it dawns on people that unilateral trade liberalisation and the pursuit of textbook free market goals is an exercise in self-delusion, it will be too late to bring back local jobs, livelihoods and communities which have been thrown onto the altar of a flawed economic ideology," said Mr Choudry.

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