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Funding boost for negotiating trade agreements

BUDGET 2004 Funding boost for negotiating trade agreements

The Government would provide extra funding to help negotiate an ever-expanding web of trade agreements with other governments, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The extra funding of $1.7M this year and $0.8M next year would support negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement with China, a Closer Economic Partnership with Thailand, and a three-way CEP with Chile and Singapore.

Mr Sutton said the World Trade Organisation remained the Government's top trading priority, as a successful Doha Development Round potentially offered the most benefits to us.

"But country-to-country trade deals can reduce barriers to exports more quickly than the Doha Round. They also help raise living standards through access to capital, expertise and technology from investment links.

"The process of negotiating trade deals is complex and very resource-intensive, as it requires full consultation with interests in New Zealand who may be affected, and intensive negotiation with the countries involved."

Mr Sutton said the extra funding would help government agencies conduct all these negotiations and associated studies together, in a reasonable time-frame.

The funding will cover research and analysis, consultations in New Zealand, additional staff, and support for implementing agreements once negotiated to ensure New Zealand industry reaps full benefit from them.

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