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China free trade agreement makes sense

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith
National Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesman

3 March 2004

China free trade agreement makes sense

A free trade agreement with China makes sense and would help remove the blockages to a trade deal with Hong Kong as well, National's Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman, Lockwood Smith, said today.

"By the middle of this century the United States and China will be the major economies in the world. We need trade agreements with both.

"When I was Trade Minister in the last National-led Government, New Zealand was the first country in the world to sign China up to the World Trade Organisation. This helped unplug an impasse that had developed and other countries came on board.

"Australia has been making rapid progress and so far is ahead of New Zealand on the road to an agreement with China. It is in our interests to be at the leading edge of this trade development wave.

"Obviously, New Zealand needs to address carefully the issue of textile imports and intellectual property. Some time is needed for New Zealand businesses in the textile industry to complete the transition they've been making towards the eventual removal of their tariff protection.

"My concern is that the Government's progress on this trade initiative will be delayed by union pressure that seems to have such an impact on their decision-making," said Dr Smith.


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