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More Resources For Trade Agreement Push

5 September 2002

More Resources For Trade Agreement Push

The Government would provide extra resources to the New Zealand Embassy in Washington to bolster New Zealand's efforts to secure a free trade agreement with the United States, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said this funding would enable the embassy to intensify its efforts to build support in America for a New Zealand-United States trade agreement at a critical time.

"The Administration now has Trade Promotion Authority but there is a long list of countries wanting to become negotiating partners for free trade agreements with the US. We need to put our best case forward at this time with the Administration, Congress and American business interests."

He said the Government had made sure that New Zealand's interest in a bilateral agreement with the United States was known at the highest levels of the Administration.

"The Prime Minister raised New Zealand's interest in an agreement with President Bush in Washington in March. She also discussed the issue with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Trade Representative Bob Zoellick. During my own visit to Washington in May, I also discussed the possibility of a New Zealand-United States trade agreement with Mr Zoellick, Secretary for Agriculture Ann Veneman, and others."

The New Zealand Ambassador in Washington, John Wood, has been meeting with key corporate partners to promote a trade agreement and business linkages. American business leaders have already put their considerable weight behind the New Zealand campaign for a trade agreement with the United States. More than 110 American businesses have signed a letter to President Bush to urge him to commence negotiations with New Zealand. The United States Chamber of Commerce has put its full weight behind a trade agreement with New Zealand. Its New Zealand arm, the American Chambers of Commerce in New Zealand, is part of the network promoting this goal in both the United States and New Zealand.

Mr Sutton thanked the New Zealand-United States Council for its support.

"The delegation from the Council that accompanied the Prime Minister to Washington in March underscored to the United States Administration the strong support that exists in New Zealand for this initiative."

Mr Sutton said the Government was keen to continue to work closely with interested groups both in New Zealand and the United States to get a trade agreement.

"We don't underestimate the difficulty of this task but by working in partnership we certainly enhance our chances.

"New Zealand has a longstanding interest in cooperating closely with the United States in seeking liberalisation of trade and we are determined to pursue this on all fronts."


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