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New Zealand Confined To Slow Track In Trade

New Zealand Confined To Slow Track In Trade

In defending his officials, against claims they did not alert the Government that the US had started linking trade and defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Phil Goff has missed the point ACT New Zealand Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Spokesman Ken Shirley said today.

"Those who believe that trade and strategic defence issues are not linked are, at best, naïve - they always have been, and always will be, linked," Mr Shirley said.

"In the past, US administrations have made it quite clear that New Zealand's anti-nuclear ships policy would not be used to punish us with trade retaliation. Unfortunately, some have interpreted that to mean that there is no linkage between trade and defence - nothing could be further from the truth.

"Generally gauche actions from New Zealand will not trigger a trade retaliation with the imposition of new barriers and tariffs. We can be assured, however, that we will not receive special privileges or priorities from our trading partners when we aggravate them needlessly. Obviously, all nations give priority and special preferences to those who are strategically aligned with them. Why would we expect it to be any other way?

"For several decades now, New Zealand has been a champion of freer international trade, with active participation through the Uruguay Round and the Cairns Group. What we must appreciate is the fact that there are two processes running in parallel. The fast track is special preferences granted on a bilateral basis between nations under free trade agreements. The slow torturous track is the multi-lateral GATT/WTO global agreements.

"What is clear, is that the political stumblings of Helen Clark and other Ministers has confined New Zealand to the slow track" Mr Shirley said.

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