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Clark, Goff must explain trade failures

Don Brash MP Leader of the National Party
Clark, Goff must explain trade failures

20 May 2004

The Government must explain why New Zealand is less relevant in American trade priorities than Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Morocco, says National Party leader Don Brash.

He is commenting after Australia yesterday signed a free trade agreement with the United States.

"The US has negotiated trade agreements with those seven countries in the past six months, and now also with Australia, while New Zealand has been left on the sideline.

"And, to rub salt into the wound, next week the US goes into a further round of negotiations with Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. Colombia and Thailand are also earmarked for talks.

"The Government has failed totally in initiating negotiations with the United States, and it is the time for serious questions to be asked," says Dr Brash.

"Why are all these countries in favour when New Zealand is not? Will this Labour Government ever achieve a trade agreement with the United States?

"Helen Clark and Phil Goff are playing politics by leaking confidential reports and politicising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, while opportunities for trade deals slip through their fingers.

"Scoring political points seems to be more important to them than securing New Zealand's future.

"Many have criticised the Australian trade deal, but imperfect though it might be, the most recent estimates are that it will be worth more than $6 billion a year to Australia. It is obvious that the Government is happy to see the income gap between New Zealanders and Australians continue to widen.

"Perhaps that's what Helen Clark meant when she said New Zealand and Australia were drifting apart. New Zealanders deserve better", says Dr Brash.

Ends


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