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Lack Of Comprehensiveness In Japan-Singapore FTA

15 January 2002

Sutton Expresses Concern At Lack Of Comprehensiveness In Japan-Singapore FTA

Trade Minister Jim Sutton sounded a note of caution at an apparent lack of comprehensiveness in the free trade agreement signed by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and Singapore Prime Minster Goh Chok Tong on Sunday.

“I welcome the news that Singapore and Japan have reached this groundbreaking decision,” Mr Sutton said. The Free Trade Agreement with Singapore is the first of it’s kind to be signed by Japan. “It is important that regional trading agreements act as building blocks towards the achievement of the APEC Bogor goals and the complete liberalisation of trade in goods and services in the Asia-Pacific region by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing economies,” said Mr Sutton. “And this agreement may be a step in the right direction.”

However, Mr Sutton expressed concern at indications that agriculture had not been fully covered within the agreement.

“I have asked officials to seek further details from Japan and Singapore on how the agreement will apply to agricultural products.”

Sutton said that early indications were that agriculture has not been comprehensively covered, as was achieved in New Zealand’s Closer Economic Partnership with Singapore and under CER with Australia. “It is our view that all sectors, including the most sensitive such as agriculture, should be included in a Free Trade Agreement.”

“It will be disappointing if agriculture has not been fully included as it detracts from New Zealand’s all-inclusive trade agreements which we have entered into with Australia and Singapore, and hope to finalise soon with Hong Kong, and could establish an unfortunate precedent. Leaving politically sensitive sectors out of trade agreements makes it more difficult to deal with them in the future.”

Ends

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