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Goff welcomes ASEAN move on FTA

Goff welcomes ASEAN move on FTA

Foreign Minister Phil Goff is warmly welcoming news that ASEAN Economic Ministers have recommended to their leaders that Australia and New Zealand be invited to take part in discussions on an Free Trade Agreement.

“An FTA with ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) would link the CER economies with 10 countries that have a combined population of 500 million people and GDP of $US737 billion,” Mr Goff said. “Estimates done several years ago of the collective gains from such an agreement were in the region of $48 billion. “NZ and Australia, as CER partners, have worked progressively towards such a goal for several years. “New Zealand will celebrate 30 years of dialogue partnership with ASEAN next year and the idea of a summit meeting and the proposal to enter discussions on an FTA fit well with New Zealand’s wish to reinvigorate relations with our ASEAN partners.

“In recent years, ASEAN countries have extended their trade and economic links with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and India. New Zealand has a strong interest in being part of the important economic structures emerging in East Asia. Our Closer Economic Partnership with Singapore and negotiations with Thailand this year are already part of this picture. “The proposed discussions towards an FTA with ASEAN offer exciting opportunities for New Zealand to benefit from closer involvement in a dynamic region where we have long-standing links in many fields.

“New Zealand exports to ASEAN nations totalled $2.2 billion last year, but the immense potential of the region as a single market is reflected in trade between ASEAN members reaching $US720 billion in 2003.

“Our exporters do not face many major barriers to goods trade with the region but an FTA would potentially open new opportunities for growth in our services and investment sectors, as well as in educational and technological exchanges,” Mr Goff said.

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