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Letter reveals MFAT hit-list

Letter reveals MFAT hit-list

A letter made public by the Green Party today indicates that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been colluding with the British Government to get rid of "unsympathetic" trade officials within the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The letter, from Dr Elaine Drage of the British Department of Trade and Industry, is addressed to Robert Hole, a Counsellor at the New Zealand High Commission in London.

It alludes to a recent meeting between the two and sets out their concerns about "protectionist" trade views within the Secretariat and accuses one official, Roman Grynberg, of "preaching essentially protectionism and isolationism" to small Pacific countries.

"Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon has already expressed his outrage at this interference in the Secretariat's internal staffing policies," said Green party Co-leader, Rod Donald. "We can only mirror that outrage.

"It is completely unacceptable for MFAT to conspire to replace officials of the Commonwealth Secretariat with ones who back the free trade ideology of the New Zealand government.

"In the case of Mr Grynberg, it appears he's been found guilty of the heinous crime of having 'consistently gone around discouraging developing countries from agreeing to a new [trade] round.'

"The Secretariat works for all Commonwealth countries, not just the rich Western ones," said Rod Donald. "So, why is the New Zealand Government undermining this work by attempting to remove officials who advocate for the interests of poor countries, many of which do not agree with unrestricted free trade?

"On the one hand the New Zealand Government preaches a rules-based free trade credo, on the other we enter into a dirty little conspiracy with the British to silence the voices of those who disagree with them."

ENDS

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