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US next step for free trade

Hon Lockwood Smith MP National Party Trade Spokesman

27 June 2003

US next step for free trade

The National Party's welcoming the European Union decision to look at reducing farm subsidies but says the New Zealand Government's attention must now shift to the lucrative US market.

"It's still clear there is no plan from the American administration to include New Zealand in the Free Trade deal that Australia's likely to get by the end of the year," says National Party Trade spokesman Dr Lockwood Smith.

"As recently as last night, US officials were reported as saying they had no view one way or the other on New Zealand's free trade bid.

"From my discussions with officials in Washington last week, I was left with the impression that an FTA with New Zealand was unlikely in the current term of the Bush administration," Dr Smith says.

"The EU decision may help revive the stuttering WTO talks, but it is only a step in the right direction.

"Anything that reduces the amount of cheaper subsidised products on the international market will benefit our agricultural sector as well as developing economies," says Dr Smith.

"However, the Government must not take the success of our farming sector fore granted, they still face increasing compliance costs on top of a new 'flatulence tax' as well as rising fuel taxes.

"Despite the hasty repair job done by Helen Clark on our international relations, our farmers still face the very real prospect that their Australian counterparts will get an FTA head-start that New Zealand might never peg back," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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