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Smoke and mirrors from PM on Trade

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith MP National Party Trade Spokesman

22 October 2003

Smoke and mirrors from PM on Trade

"Helen Clark is continuing with her attempts to hide the Labour Government's poor performance on Trade from the New Zealand public," says National Party International Trade spokesman Dr Lockwood Smith.

"Now Helen Clark is telling the nation that New Zealand is not being left behind Australia in terms of securing international trade deals. That is patently untrue," says Dr Smith.

"Helen Clark wishfully suggests New Zealand will be right beside Australia, predicting 'at the end of the day we're likely to end up with much of the same kind of configuration of agreements'.

"But the reality, and her Government's track record, don't support such bold claims.

"Prior to her Labour Government, New Zealand was ahead of Australia in initiating trade deals such as that with Singapore, and driving the innovative P5 concept involving the United States, Australia and Chile, as well as Singapore.

"Now, of that P5 group, only New Zealand has not negotiated (or is not in the process of negotiating) a free trade agreement with the United States. Meanwhile, Australia has completed its negotiation with Thailand and is ahead of New Zealand in a trade deal with China.

"The Hong Kong negotiation is in limbo because of rules of origin issues, and Helen Clark has lost months of valuable time by failing to solve them through initiating trade discussions with China who, according to my information, would have been receptive.

"Worst of all, President Bush will see the Australian deal through by the end of this year if not early next, while key members of the Bush Administration have made it clear New Zealand will not be negotiating an agreement during the current term of the Bush Administration.

"Trade is New Zealand's life blood and, despite her spin, Helen Clark cannot hide the fact that her Government has performed poorly in enhancing its flow," Dr Smith says.

Ends

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