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Trade Minister Welcomes Oxfam Report

Oxfam's report on trade and poverty reduction, "Rigged Rules and Double Standards: Trade, Globablisation, and the Fight Against Poverty", was a welcome contribution, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

He said the Government agreed with and support the key message in the report ? that trade is one of the best ways to reduce poverty.

"We agree that there are a number of double standards from many rich countries who profess a commitment to poverty reduction while denying poorer countries meaningful access to their markets. These countries also provide massive subsidies, particularly in agriculture, which distort trade and reduce international prices. This directly affects the ability of poorer countries to trade themselves out of poverty."

Mr Sutton said Oxfam was quite right that developed countries needed to start delivering on their promises and get on with creating export opportunities for developing countries.

"New Zealand has a lot in common with developing nations when it comes to trade ? we face the same barriers and market distortions for many of our agriculture exports. We will be working hard in the World Trade Organisation alongside developing nations to level the playing field and give our exporters a chance to sell their products at fair prices."

He said that he did not agree with some of Oxfam's criticisms of New Zealand.

"I think we have a good record in the WTO and other international organizations for promoting the interests of developing countries.

"One of the key things we do is to provide least developed countries with tariff-free market access into New Zealand. And for most products, developing countries pay only limited tariffs.

"We are also strong contributors to the WTO's technical assistance funds and training programmes for developing countries. We have just contributed $370,000 to the WTO's global trust fund.

"We will continue to be a strong supporter of the aspirations of developing countries to use trade as a vehicle for reducing poverty."

The Oxfam report is available from Oxfam New Zealand, and can be found on the Internet at www.maketradefair.com.

Ends

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