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Minister Spells Out Trade Policy Principles

New Zealand's trade policy was firmly aimed at benefiting its citizens, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton told the Korea-New Zealand Business Council at a lunch function hosted by the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce that after a Closer Economic Partnership agreement had been concluded with Singapore and early discussions started with Hong Kong, some people had asked why those countries had been given priority.

"Put simply, the Government intends to negotiate trade agreements with whatever nations we can - where it is to the benefit of our citizens."

Mr Sutton said that in practice, this meant being strategic about which negotiations were given priority. Some criteria in that were trade volumes, as well as what sort of goods and services made up that trade now and in the future.

"The Government is thinking about this strategically. We've looked at where our trade is and where it is likely to be in the future - with the nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum and in particular, the nations of North Asia.

"These nations - in APEC and especially in North Asia - have largely complementary economies to ours and have large consumer bases that will buy our products."

Future possibilities included: Hong Kong, the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Chile, and possibly a linking up of the CER agreement of New Zealand and Australia with the Association of South East Asian Nations' free trade area.

Mr Sutton said South Korea was an extremely important market for New Zealand.

"New Zealand's trade relationship with Korea is already substantial. Korea is now our fifth largest export market, and is jostling Britain for fourth place. Bilateral trade totalled nearly $2 billion last year and prospects are good for continued growth in commodities such as logs, hides and skins, aluminium and other inputs which Korea needs for its construction and processing industries."

Ends


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