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NZ isolated on trade

NZ isolated on trade

The Government decision to target free trade at the WTO, while turning against the US, will inevitably speed-up New Zealand's economic slow-down, according to National Party Trade spokesman Dr Lockwood Smith.

"Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile has expressed his Government's opinion that the Doha round of WTO talks is unlikely to succeed.

'There is still no resolution to the... all important agriculture negotiations. The bottom line is that unless we can resolve these issues and we make significant progress on agriculture the round will fail.' - Mark Vaile Australian Minister for Trade (May 23)

"That's the worst possible scenario for New Zealand, out in the cold on Free Trade with the US, and no closer to a breakthrough at the WTO," says Dr Smith.

"Ironically, in 1999 when I was working to secure a free trade deal with the US under the National Government, New Zealand was close to the front of the queue.

"We were working with Singapore, Australia and Chile on a five-way deal with the United States - now of the five, we're the only ones out in the cold.

"Australia is not underestimating the importance of this deal," Dr Smith says.

"The Howard Government is already talking about better beef and dairy access to the lucrative US market.

"In beef alone Australia says the FTA benefits are estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars," says Dr Smith.

"With free access, it's inevitable that US consumers will be offered beef from Australia in much greater quantities, probably at New Zealand's expense.

"Australia is describing the FTA as 'an opportunity to turn heads in the United States and attract additional investment and therefore more and better paid jobs for Australians.'

"That should be a major concern for Helen Clark's Government, with the average Australian worker already earning as much as $200 a week more than their New Zealand counter-part.

"But instead of trying to repair the damage, the Labour Government has allowed Jim Anderton to do further damage to the US relationship.

"New Zealanders need to know that Helen Clark's anti-American agenda, which stretches back to the Vietnam War, is further eroding any hope we may have had for an FTA with the US," Dr Smith says.

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