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"Have a heart!"

17 July 2001

"Have a heart!"

The Green Party is calling on the Labour-led Government to show some compassion for New Zealand's 18,000 clothing workers by pulling out of free trade negotiations with Hong Kong which are underway this week.

"Labour and the Alliance know full well the negative impact a free trade agreement with Hong Kong would have on 18,000 New Zealand clothing workers, the companies they work for and the communities they live in," said Green Party co-leader Rod Donald.

"Why is the Government deliberately sacrificing thousands of the country most vulnerable workers in order to pursue a trade agreement which defies common sense?

" New Zealand exporters already have 100 percent open access to the Hong Kong market," he said.

" Hong Kong has no commitment to implementing meaningful Rules of Origin to ensure 'Made in Hong Kong' really means products are made in Hong Kong."

Mr Donald said that United States Customs reports highlighted considerable problems policing Rules of Origin; both in determining whether products fitted the rules and in policing Hong Kong exporters who kept breaking the rules.

"New Zealand Customs will face even greater difficulty stopping the illegal transport of cheap Chinese goods through Hong Kong given its small size and stretched resources.

"The Hong Kong agreement is lose - lose for New Zealand - in increase in trade access AND certain loss of local jobs," said Mr Donald.

"The Green Party calls on the Government parties to have a heart by protecting New Zealand jobs against unscrupulous practices by Hong Kong exporters.

"Compelling evidence confirms that the only effective way to achieve this is to keep the current tariff regime in place for textile, clothing and footwear," he said.

ENDS

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