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It's 'game over' for GATS

It's 'game over' for GATS

The collapse of one key trade deal and the stagnation of another is proof New Zealand's over-eagerness for trade liberalisation has badly backfired, Green Co-leader Rod Donald said today.

The World Trade Organisation has admitted that the so-called Doha development round on agriculture has failed to agree on a framework for reducing subsidies by this week's deadline. Meanwhile, it is emerging that only a handful of countries - New Zealand among them - met the March 31st deadline for submitting their initial GATS offers of services liberalisation.

"This Government embraced the GATS process in the totally mistaken belief that in doing so, it would earn brownie points with the major markets for our farm products," said Rod Donald.

"While most of the rest of the world has refused to be rushed and is carefully considering the implications of any GATS offer, Labour has tripped up in its haste to open the door to foreign service providers.

"New Zealand is actually playing in two games of high-stakes poker at one time. In the GATS game, we've already shown the other players our hand. In the agricultural-reform game, all the other players have folded because they can't agree on the rules.

"The Government's commitment to this GATS process was predicated solely on gaining influence for our farm exports lobbying. Now that's collapsed, there remains no good reason to proceed with our GATS offer."

As part of the campaign against further GATS commitments, the Green MPs have been asking Ministers a series of questions in Parliament. These questions have revealed that many of the Ministers have little idea of how GATS works or what it covers. The Greens have published a summary of these questions at: http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/other6171.html

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