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Speech: Signing Of NZ-Singapore CEP Agreement

Rt Hon Helen Clark Speech Notes

Thank you, Prime Minister Goh, for your kind remarks, and may I also thank our ministerial colleagues and officials who have made this agreement a reality.

Today marks an important stage in the development of our bilateral relations. We are together forging a Closer Economic Partnership between our two countries. And as the word 'partnership' suggests, we will be promoting and developing closer trade, economic and investment linkages to the benefit of both our countries.

Early last week, the New Zealand Parliament held a full debate on the Agreement and indicated broad support for it.

We represent small nations a good distance from each other, but we are not isolated and modern communications have brought us even closer together. We both have to earn our living in an increasingly globalised world economy. Information technology, and the advent of e-commerce, are helping New Zealand to overcome the problems of distance from our main markets.

This is a new era in the economic relationship between New Zealand and Singapore. It is based on a model and comprehensive agreement, which complies fully with WTO requirements, and is fully consistent with APEC's 'Bogor' goals. New Zealand believes that sub-regional agreements must be supportive of the WTO and the international rules-based trading system. This agreement is, and is an excellent model for others to emulate. Indeed in New Zealand on Sunday, the Chilean President described it as modern and model.

I am pleased that only one year after our negotiations began, we are able to sign this agreement just before we take part in the APEC Leaders' meeting in Brunei. This agreement shows our APEC partners what can be done in our region to promote trade and economic growth.

The agreement is good for New Zealand, good for Singapore, and good for the Asia-Pacific region.

It promotes bilateral trade, encourages investment, and reduces barriers to exports. The agreement has already had a positive effect in raising our profiles in each other's markets. It is worth noting that in the year to June, New Zealand's exports to Singapore have increased by 34 per cent. For New Zealand, the agreement will encourage and facilitate further our exports of goods and services to Singapore, and will make it easier for our businesses and professionals to operate here. I encourage our respective businesses to get closer together to forge the economic partnerships and investment linkages that we both see as desirable.

There will be regular Ministerial level reviews every two years to ensure the agreement is fulfilling its potential and to build on the initial commitments contained in the Agreement, such as services.

I look forward to the first biennial review to see the progress we have been able to make in giving substance to our agreement. I am confident our Agreement will live up to the expectations we both have for it. Today's signing ceremony does not mark an end, it marks a beginning.

I look forward to the CEP coming into effect on 1 January 2001.

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