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Singapore-NZ Closer Economic Partnership

The Alliance will vote against the proposed Singapore-NZ Closer Economic Partnership when it comes into Parliament for a vote, Alliance leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton announced today.

Cabinet has approved a process for the proposed agreement to be referred to a Select Committee for public submission. It will then be debated in Parliament and the House will vote on the agreement.

Releasing an Alliance position paper on the subject at a news conference today, Jim Anderton gave two main reasons for opposing the agreement:

 The Alliance believes it is particularly important to include minimum employment and environmental standards in the Singapore agreement when it is being regarded by many of its proponents as a model to be applied to other countries.

 The Alliance believes New Zealand should retain as much control as possible over its own economic, social, environmental and cultural destiny. The proposed CEP with Singapore makes it virtually impossible to lower investment thresholds from current levels for Singaporean investors.

Jim Anderton emphasised that the Alliance would accept the decision of the House.

This means that if the House votes in favour of ratification, the Alliance accepts that the Cabinet may authorise the ratification. The Alliance will not use its special position to frustrate the decision of the majority of Parliament.

"The Alliance supports fair trade. The Alliance recognises that New Zealand is a trading nation, and that the exchange of goods and services with other nations helps to create jobs, rising income levels and development we need," Jim Anderton said.

"The Alliance fully supports, and believes the Government should facilitate however it can, trade and investment that increases employment, raises incomes and boosts development, provided arrangements are not environmentally destructive.

"Trade with other nations will not necessarily bring unequivocal benefits, however, where other nations have a competitive advantage based on exploitation of workers or the environment."

Ends

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