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Work On International Trade In Services To Start

New Zealanders involved in the services industry will be consulted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of the Government's participation in international trade talks, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said trade talks on services, being held in Geneva, had moved to a second, more substantive phase.

"We now have a work programme for negotiations over the next year, and a process for discussing how to further liberalise the services sector. This means New Zealand and other WTO members will start to consider in detail a range of negotiating proposals from developed and developing countries alike."

Mr Sutton said the services sector was extremely important to the New Zealand economy.

"More that two-thirds of GDP and around three-quarters of employment are generated by services. Trade in services has shown remarkable growth in recent years, even faster than trade in goods. As an example, New Zealand is now among the top 20 exporters in computer and information services. Other key sectors of the economy with involvement in services trade include construction, education, engineering and tourism.

"What we are after is concrete results for New Zealand services industries. I have asked officials to consult closely with industry and other interested parties in coming months, to ensure that our interests are well represented at the negotiations.

Mr Sutton said he expected the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Qatar later this year to add further momentum to the services negotiations. WTO members are hopeful that a new round of comprehensive negotiations could be launched there.

Ends

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