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Show some spine on trade negotiations

Show some spine on trade negotiations

National says it's time the Government showed some firm leadership on international trade liberalisation work.

"The Trade Minister's statement explaining New Zealand's offer for the negotiations on the General Agreements on Trade In Services (GATS) is spineless," says National's Trade spokesperson, Lockwood Smith.

"Jim Sutton says that New Zealand "could be prepared to stick to some of what we have already done ... if they (other countries) are prepared to match us in some areas".

"That makes about as much sense as some of the arguments offered by the European Union and Japan on why they don't want to offer more to free up trade in agriculture.

"This Government's had nearly four years to make some progress. All we've seen is the completion of the Singapore deal, where the last National Government had already signed the Heads of Agreement.

"Since then, the Hong Kong FTA has come unstuck, the agriculture trade negotiations at the WTO are stalled, and the Government has only succeeded in seriously offending our most important allies in trade - Australia and the U.S.

"If Jim Sutton had any vision he would see that the difficulty over rules of origin with Hong Kong offers a golden opportunity to explore how we might actually initiate a free trade agreement with China, since the rules of origin problem stems from Hong Kong's particular economic relationship with China.

"Likewise, the GATS offers an opportunity to help the EU sell to its member states and its people the benefits of liberalisation. You can't expect them to give up what they see as important protections in agriculture if they're not going to get anything in return.

"It's a sad day for New Zealand if the appalling trade ignorance of the Greens and the stultifying hold of the unions stop the Government from acting in New Zealand's best interests," says Dr Smith.

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