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Clark must commit to US trade agreement


Lockwood Smith National Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

7 December 2001

Clark must commit to US trade agreement

Helen Clark's stand-back approach is the wrong attitude towards a free trade agreement with the United States, National's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.

Helen Clark told United States representatives at the conference for "Creating Coalitions of Interest New Zealand - United States Closer Economic Partnership" in Auckland last night that New Zealand was merely 'ready when you are'.

"This reflects Helen Clark's approach - she talks the talk but has no commitment to real action.

"Helen Clark needs to learn that it is almost insulting to the Americans to adopt a 'ready when you are' approach. They have many pressing items on their agenda of a far greater magnitude than a trade deal with New Zealand. The Government must be far more pro-active.

"Singapore is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States but Prime Minister Goh's approach is totally different. He was personally committed to achieving the trade deal, and convinced the U.S. to enter into negotiations. Likewise, Trade Minister George Yeo missed no opportunity to advance Singapore's case personally.

"Helen Clark, Jim Sutton and Phil Goff must first convince Australia against entering into negotiations without New Zealand, and then convince the United States Government that it should give priority to a tri-lateral deal with Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Smith, who worked closely with the United States while chairing APEC and advancing the five-way trade proposal involving the U.S, N.Z, Singapore, Australia and Chile, said Helen Clark's 'ready when you are' approach just didn't reflect the necessary commitment.

Ends

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