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HK-CEP consultation report published

Public submissions have made a valuable contribution to helping the Government identify key issues surrounding the proposed closer economic partnership (CEP) with Hong Kong, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

He said the written submissions released today showed how seriously many groups and individuals were taking the opportunity to be consulted on this market-building initiative.

"They provide a firm base for the ongoing consultations being held around the country with business, unions, local government, Maori, non-governmental organisations and civil society generally.

"The submissions endorse the importance of this consultation process, which is not only helping to impart information about the opportunities and challenges of a CEP, but is also tapping into a wealth of practical experience about doing business with Hong Kong, and how this might be improved."

Mr Sutton said many groups and individuals had asked the written submissions to be made available as a resource to improve this consultation further.

"I am releasing not only the submissions, but also the first Cabinet paper which includes early feedback from the consultations. I hope this demonstrates this Government's commitment to ensuring the process is as open as possible."

Mr Sutton said some opponents of the CEP negotiation may be surprised at the level of support the initiative was attracting, and the constructive role some affected industries were playing in helping officials to devise workable solutions to some of the challenges they might face. This would continue in step with the negotiations themselves, he said.

"We are not negotiating in stealth."

Mr Sutton said the first round of substantive talks, held in Hong Kong between officials last week, had been productive and positive.

Both sides were pleased with the progress made, he said.

"Both of us have begun compiling and exchanging preliminary proposals and draft texts on key elements in the negotiations ? for example on a framework for services. Work will continue on that.

"There are many complex issues to be worked through, and as a government, we will ensure that any resulting agreement has benefits for our citizens."

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for late September.

ENDS


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