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Cullen Should Hunt For Missing $$$Mns In Singapore

Dr Cullen should hunt for our missing millions in Singapore

The Green Party is challenging Michael Cullen to produce the pot of gold at the end of the free trade rainbow during his stopover in Singapore today.

The Labour Government entered into a closer economic partnership (CEP) agreement with Singapore on 1 January 2001, in the face of opposition from the Green Party and its own junior coalition partner the Alliance.

"Dr Cullen was quick to praise the benefits of his Government's closer economic partnership with Singapore in his 2001 budget speech. The truth is not so rosy," said Green Co-leader Rod Donald.

"At the time, Dr Cullen enthused, 'already the fruits of that agreement are appearing. Trade with Singapore is right now growing very rapidly'.

"In fact, New Zealand's exports to Singapore have declined 11.8 per cent (or $126 million) in the two and a half years since the free trade agreement took effect, while our imports from Singapore have risen 17.8 per cent (or $228 million.)

"The net effect is that New Zealand's trade deficit with Singapore grew to $564 million over that period. This compares to a trade deficit of $210 million for the two and a half years before we threw open our borders.

"We wish Dr Cullen good luck on his treasure hunt in Singapore today, especially as he shouldn't in good conscience come home until he finds that extra $354 million his government's free trade agreement has cost New Zealand.

"The Singapore experience should be a salutary reminder to Dr Cullen of the foolishness of free trade as he heads to the APEC conference in Thailand," Rod Donald said.


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