Shipley: PM Must Get Real On APEC
Helen Clark is wrong to assert that APEC has run out of steam and is only focused on trade liberalisation, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today
"In New Zealand's APEC year, we addressed issues such as food systems, customs union, e-commerce and approaches to manage economies effectively to recover from financial crises. All the leaders valued these measures highly.
"APEC also provides an opportunity for leaders and CEOs of the region's leading companies to interact in the meetings that precede the leaders' summit - a process that is unique to APEC and invaluable for the opportunities it provides.
"It is also a venue where the leaders of small economies have access to leaders of large economies. I can think of no other forum where the New Zealand Prime Minister has access to the leaders of Russia, China, Japan, the United States and the Latin Americans.
"Both formally and informally, APEC can address a lot of issues that are beyond the scope of any other forum.
"The Auckland summit last year demonstrated APEC's worth superbly as leaders used the meeting to thrash out a solution to the East Timor crisis. No other forum could have provided such a focus and prompted such immediate action.
"The fact is, APEC has already scored real advances and there are more within its grasp - if leaders like Helen Clark are prepared to be bold.
"I suspect that her comments are designed in part for domestic consumption. She is embarrassed going to APEC by the fact that her coalition partner is adamantly opposed to free trade.
"I urge her to not allow domestic political interests to damage New Zealand's overall best interests as she goes to APEC.
"The Alliance would rather New Zealand pulled out entirely. But that would be in no one's best interests," Mrs Shipley said.