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Sutton Welcomes United States Trade Comment

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton plans to discuss United States' moves to liberalise trade when he visits Washington DC next month.

Mr Sutton welcomed comments by new United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick about United States interest in more liberal trading arrangements with New Zealand.

It has been reported in Washington DC that Mr Zoellick had told a committee hearing in the House of Representatives that he planned to talk with New Zealand as well as Australia about the prospect of a free trade agreement.

Mr Sutton said the Americans were already aware of New Zealand's readiness to engage in closer economic partnerships on a regional or, if necessary on a bilateral basis, providing those agreements brought real benefits to New Zealand. He would be keen to discuss the issue with Mr Zoellick in Washington DC.

United States leadership on global trade matters was essential, Mr Sutton said, and that made Mr Zoellick's comments especially welcome.

"Like Robert Zoellick, I think it is crucial to get a new round of World Trade Organisation talks underway, and I applaud his approach maintaining leverage by being ready to move on multiple fronts.

"We have consistently sought progress on regional trade arrangements, including a P5. Whether multilaterally or bilaterally, New Zealand would welcome discussions that could lead to genuine improvements in access to markets for agriculture and services and other products."

P5 is a trade agreement which would link New Zealand, United States, Australia, Singapore, and Chile.

Mr Sutton said that any future negotiation with the United States would require a Cabinet mandate and be the subject of extensive public consultation.

For more information, contact: CATHIE BELL on 04 4719855 or 025 998467

Office of Hon Jim Sutton

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