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United States announcement of trade with Australia

United States announcement of trade agreement with Australia

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton welcomed today's announcement by United States Trade Representative Zoellick in Canberra that he was notifying Congress of the US Administration's intention to negotiate a trade agreement with Australia.

"This is clearly good news for Australia, but also for New Zealand. An Australian/US trade agreement enhances the prospects for New Zealand to have its own trade agreement with the US."

USTR Zoellick acknowledged the economic integration between New Zealand and Australia in his letter notifying Congress of the Administration's intention to pursue a trade agreement with Australia. USTR Zoellick's letter also noted that New Zealand has been advocating its case to the Administration as well as to Congress that a trade agreement with New Zealand would complement the United States' agreements with Singapore and Australia.

"USTR Zoellick's advice that he would be soliciting Congress's views on an agreement with New Zealand is very encouraging news" Mr Sutton said.

"We also warmly welcome Australian Prime Minister John Howard's commitment to be supportive of any separate United States-New Zealand negotiation. He correctly observed there are some differences between Australia's and New Zealand's trade priorities. We are grateful for Mr Howard's undertaking to remain in touch.

Mr Sutton said the relationships with Australia and the United States were the two most important economic relationships we have.

"New Zealand would welcome the opportunity to make these even stronger and, to this end, we will continue our efforts to secure a New Zealand-US trade agreement."

Mr Sutton noted that last week the US/NZ Council in Washington wrote to USTR Zoellick to underline the support from the US business community for a US/NZ agreement, attaching the signatures of the 127 businesses that back a negotiation with New Zealand. He also acknowledged the close cooperation between the New Zealand business community, especially through the NZ/US Council, and the Government on this shared goal.

"I am confident that New Zealand's desire for a comprehensive trade agreement with the United States is also well recognised by many members of Congress and we can work together with the Administration, Congress and the business community on achieving it."

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