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Sutton concedes defeat before key talks begin

Hon Lockwood Smith MP National Party Trade Spokesman

15 August 2003

Sutton concedes defeat before key talks begin

Jim Sutton should be held to account for his handling of trade talks and his failure of farming here at home, says National Party Trade spokesman Lockwood Smith.

He's responding to Jim Sutton's claim today that a new trade reform plan by the United States and the European Union could let them shield their politically sensitive dairy and meat industries for another generation.

"It seems to me that Mr Sutton is conceding defeat before next month's make-or-break WTO ministerial meeting gets underway in Mexico.

"The WTO talks are set to be yet another failure in Mr Sutton's increasingly long line of failures," Dr Smith notes.

"After a quick audit on Mr Sutton's track record this year, it's pretty clear questions now need to be raised about his performance.

"Mr Sutton has spent months out of the country at one talk-fest or another and he's come home empty handed almost every time," says Dr Smith.

"We've missed out on a Free Trade Agreement with the US, when all the other countries in the P5 group have had some success.

"Talks with Hong Kong stalled a year ago and there's been no real effort to pursue an FTA with China," Dr Smith says.

"Labour's only Free Trade success story came out of Singapore in 2000, but even that deal was nailed down by the previous National Government.

"Here at home farmers have had enough of Mr Sutton too.

"They're fed up with the ideologically driven flatulence tax, 18 new stealth taxes and the public attacks where they've been described as 'whingers'.

"With Jim Sutton leading the charge on trade and agriculture, it's no wonder Helen Clark has backed away from plans to return New Zealand to the top half of the OECD in a decade," Dr Smith says.


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