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Hong Kong Free Trade Is A Dead Deal

Green Party Trade spokesperson Rod Donald is calling on Trade Minister Jim Sutton to finally kill-off the Hong Kong free trade deal at his meeting tomorrow [Friday] with his Hong Kong counterpart.

Mr Sutton is ostensibly in Hong Kong for a "routine" meeting. "In fact, the Minister is desperately trying to shore-up the all-but collapsed trade deal," Rod Donald said.

"Hong Kong actually wants an even more one-sided deal than this Government is prepared to allow them." The deal was always doomed to failure, said Mr Donald, because:

* New Zealand already has tariff-free access to Hong Kong for all goods, so there was no benefit in it for New Zealand manufacturers;

* Hong Kong has consistently refused to include labour and environmental protection in any deal, despite the Labour/Alliance government promising, in the speech from the throne, to integrate labour standards and environmental concerns with trade agreements;

* the problems surrounding "rules of origin" - Chinese goods masquerading as "made in Hong Kong" - are insurmountable, with no mechanisms in place to monitor the 88 per cent of Hong Kong's exports which are "re-exports" made elsewhere;

* the flood of cheap goods will put up to 20,000 jobs in this country's textile, footwear and clothing industry in jeopardy;

"Look at Singapore for an example of how badly this government's free trade agreements actually work," said Rod Donald.

"In the year since the Singapore agreement began our trade deficit with Singapore has rocketed from $26 million to $215 million.

"And the first six-month Customs check showed that more than 99% of goods coming from Singapore in the textile, clothing and footwear category failed the 'rules of origin' test - that is, they came from somewhere else. "Mr Sutton should cut short his Hong Kong stopover and take a visit to the factories and labour camps in China to see what free trade really means."


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