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"APEC and The Environment" Factsheet

AOTEAROA/NEW ZEALAND APEC MONITORING GROUP
Christchurch Office, PO Box 1905, Christchurch

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE
6 August 1999

APEC Monitoring Group Launches "APEC and The Environment" Factsheet to Mark End of Conservation Week

The Aotearoa/New Zealand APEC Monitoring Group today launched its sixth APEC factsheet, on APEC and The Environment, to mark Conservation Week and to coincide with the third APEC Senior Officials Meeting taking place in Rotorua, with the Auckland Leaders Summit just over a month away.

During the past year, the APEC Monitoring Group has produced six factsheets on different dimensions of APEC and its failed free market, free trade and investment approach. These form part of its education campaign to expose and oppose the APEC agenda during New Zealand's year as chair of the ailing 21-member economic forum.

They include What Is APEC?; Workers, Jobs and Tariffs; APEC, Maori and The Treaty; The Pacific And the APEC Agenda; APEC In Auckland; and APEC And The Environment.

"Thousands of our factsheets are in circulation. We have been swamped by demand for analysis and information which goes beyond the government's feelgood APEC hype", says an organiser for the group, Aziz Choudry.

"Documents secured under the Official Information Act show that while the Government has been anxious to 'get the APEC 1999 brand in the market place as quickly as possible", its communications would not focus "on the complex substance of the APEC process". The government cannot afford genuine debate on APEC. And we cannot afford to believe their hype."

"APEC has always treated the environment as peripheral. Its interest in the environment is driven by a narrow economic vision, not concern for the environment or the people who depend on it to survive".

"Experience shows that APEC's model of unfettered export-oriented economic growth causes environmental degradation, pollution of water and air systems, rapid depletion of forests, wetlands and fisheries, and loss of flora and fauna."

One of the issues the factsheet deals with is the push to liberalise trade in forest and wood products.

"Ironically while DOC has been promoting Conservation Week, the New Zealand, US and Canadian governments are promoting a global trade agreement to eliminate remaining tariffs on forest products.

"Dubbed the "Global Free Logging Agreement" by its opponents, this proposal is part of an eight-sector Accelerated Tariff Liberalisation package shunted off to the World Trade Organisation after failure to reach consensus within APEC.

"It aims to eliminate tariffs on all forest and paper products by 2000 for "developed" countries and 2003 for "developing" ones, increasing production and consumption of wood products. The American Forest and Paper Association says wood consumption could increase by 3-4% worldwide if tariffs come down. It seeks to eliminate restrictions on where, when and how to log so production and industry profits increase.

"This is yet another example of an economic agenda which promotes trade liberalisation as an end in itself, ignoring environmental and social concerns unless they are redefined in narrow, "trade-related" terms. So much for the government's commitment to "Conservation Week"!" said Mr Choudry.

The APEC and the Environment factsheet is now available from the Auckland and Christchurch offices of the APEC Monitoring Group and on its website at www.apec.gen.nz

For further comment: ph Aziz Choudry, APEC Monitoring Group (03) 3662803 or 021 217 3039

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