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PM must carry on progress with Chile

“Helen Clark will find many issues on the plate between New Zealand and Chile when she visits that country, and I urge her to carry on the initiatives launched by National,” Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

Chile is a vital partner for New Zealand on many fronts and there is much work going on that will make it even more important. It’s essential to carry on the momentum that has been started.”

Mrs Shipley last year visited Chile, along with Mexico and Peru, as part of a round of meetings with APEC leaders.

“I found there was a renewed impetus for free trade agreements within the Administration of outgoing President Frei. I urge Helen Clark to pick up the issue with President Lagos.

“Chile was interested in a free trade agreement involving New Zealand and other Pacific and Asian economies. That’s an idea with a huge future for New Zealand.

“It looks as if in the next few years progress on multilateral agreements through the WTO will be slow, so it is particularly important to pursue other opportunities such as this.

“Chile made a valuable contribution to last year’s APEC meeting where, incidentally, President Lagos’ son was an official in the Chilean delegation.

“New Zealand shares many other political and economic interests with Chile. Managed properly, I can see the relationship moving to a new level in the years ahead.

“It’s vital that we don’t drop the ball,” Mrs Shipley said.

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