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Minister Sutton Carries Big Responsibility

Friday 3 May 2002

Minister Jim Sutton has a Herculean task ahead of him in his meeting with the United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellich, ACT Trade and Negotiations Spokesman MP Owen Jennings said today.

"Every step forward in freeing trade is worthwhile and Mr Sutton will take strong support from all parties in Parliament, except the Greens who remain in the swamp of protectionism.

"The timing for Mr Sutton's visit is quite propitious. He should advise Mr Zoellich of New Zealand's opposition to the outrageous Farm Bill that has been prepared for Mr Bush to sign. It creates a monster aimed at protecting US farmers from all possible eventualities at a cost of US$4,400 per American household. It will keep international prices low, limit New Zealand exports to the States and is likely set off a new trade war with the Europeans.

"There is a note of caution being sounded about the US economy that Mr Sutton should exploit. The US dollar has fallen against the Euro and there are signs that the great burst of growth in the US may be slowing. Dealing with the US poor record on freeing trade of recent years would be an inspirational way to boost the economy again.

"Mr Sutton should encourage the United States to get the `fast track' legislation in place to free the President so he can get on and sign some trade agreements. The Trade Promotion Authority is languishing having got through the House of Representatives.

"Mr Sutton could appeal to the Americans to make trade leadership a high priority again. All of the major steps in freeing trade internationally since World War ll have come from American leadership. In recent times they have dropped the ball. Politics has replaced the need for integrity. Too many one-off deals like lamb, steel, lumber, etc. have injured the American's leadership image and been severely detrimental to free trade.

"The recently announced drop in dairy prices is mostly a result of protectionist policies of the United States and Europe. They will gain no new market share as a result, only reduce prices for honest traders like New Zealand.

"ACT wishes Mr Sutton well," Mr Jennings said.

Ends

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