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No such thing as a "free" trade deal

New Zealand could be forced to allow unlimited sales of land to overseas owners, as part of a free trade deal, Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

Ms Fitzsimons described a report on trade barriers written by US trade representative Robert Zoellick, who met Helen Clark during her visit to Washington, as dynamite and damning.

"There's no such thing as a "free" trade deal," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The Americans would extract a heavy price in sovereignty - and this report sets out what the price is likely to be," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The report makes it clear that Americans aren't going to put up with the Overseas Investment Commission stopping them buying our farms, our coastline, our islands, even if it is to safeguard New Zealand interests. Being very very very good friends with the Americans means giving them rights to buy up as much of our land as they want," she said.

"Some foreign investment can be positive. But already land prices are being pushed so high in some areas that locals can't afford to buy. Public access to the High Country - world class for its scenery, tramping and fishing, is being restricted by new foreign owners who don't have the same traditions as Kiwis.

"There have to be some controls to make sure that New Zealanders don't become tenants in their own country. The Government shouldn't even consider trading our land for more trade."

Ms Fitzsimons said she was also extremely concerned by the description of New Zealand's two-year moratorium on GE farming, and our GE labelling regime, as trade barriers they seek to remove.

"New Zealand should be trading on a GE-Free future, not trading it off. If the Government sells out on a GE-Free country for a trade deal, we will lose our quality reputation and our overseas markets. What use would a free trade deal be then?"


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