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Proposed United States Trade Agreement Law

Proposed United States trade agreement law welcomed

The introduction of a bill in the United States Senate to authorise a trade agreement between the United States and New Zealand was extremely welcome, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Last week, Democrat senator Max Baucus submitted bills to the Senate to authorise the negotiation of trade agreements between the United States and New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea.

Mr Baucus told the Senate that the United States had to continue to build economic alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, and that both New Zealand and Australia had been strong partners in trade.

The bills are comprehensive, and include market access for goods and services, rules of origin, customs, sanitary and phytosanitary safeguards, government procurement, investment, intellectual property, transparency, e-commerce, and environment and labour standards.

Mr Baucus told the Senate that agriculture negotiations with New Zealand and Australia would require "careful treatment", but "should allow us to better work together to reduce unfair trade barriers in other parts of the world".

Mr Sutton said the bills promoted by Senator Baucus, and the bipartisan support they had received, especially from Republican senator Phil Crane and Republican congressman Jim Leach (who has submitted similar bills previously), reflected the support in Congress for this sort of initiative which was evident to him during his recent visit to Washington DC.

"Although the Baucus bill might not lead to a negotiation any time soon, New Zealand continues to press its case in Washington for a Closer Economic Partnership trade agreement in whatever form is acceptable to the United States."

Mr Sutton said the United States market was an important one for New Zealand.

He said the negotiation of any trade agreement - with the United States or any other country or group of countries - would be subject to a mandate from Cabinet and public consultation.

ENDS

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