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Hong Kong CEP proposal report published

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton today released a discussion paper on the issues to be covered in negotiations with Hong Kong for a Closer Economic Partnership Agreement.

This followed the announcement by Prime Minister Helen Clark earlier today, during her visit to Hong Kong, that New Zealand and Hong Kong had agreed to start negotiations for a bilateral CEP.

Mr Sutton encouraged everyone to read the discussion document and respond to it.

"New Zealand is seeking a comprehensive agreement with Hong Kong covering goods, services and investment. The Government wants all sections of the community to have an opportunity to comment on the issues to be covered in the negotiations. Officials will be consulting widely over the next two to three months on the basis of the discussion paper."

Mr Sutton also released the text of the Understanding agreed between New Zealand and Hong Kong, setting out the principles and parameters on which the negotiations would be based.

A particular focus of the negotiations will be to promote two-way trade in goods and services and to increase bilateral investment flows. The discussion paper examines the current state of the Hong Kong/New Zealand trade and economic relationship and invites comments on a wide range of issues. An important issue to be addressed will be the rules of origin to be designed for the CEP to ensure non-parties to the agreement do not derive unintended benefits as a result of tariff elimination on Hong Kong origin goods.

Mr Sutton said comments received would form the basis of a report to the Government and would help shape New Zealand's positions in the negotiations with Hong Kong.

Comments on the discussion paper should be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade by 25 May.

The discussion paper will be available on the Ministry's website: www.mfat.govt.nz.

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