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Emphasis on trade in Brash's overseas trip

Emphasis on trade in National leader's overseas trip

National Party leader Don Brash leaves tomorrow for a two-week visit to Washington, London and Beijing - a trip where much of the emphasis will be on trade.

In Washington he hopes to meet with US Special Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, and in Beijing he intends to have discussions with those involved in the proposed Free Trade Agreement between China and New Zealand.

In London he expects to meet with Opposition leader Michael Howard as well as Government Ministers, the Confederation of British Industry and the Bank of England. Dr Brash will be away from June 1 to 13, and a few days after his return he will visit Canberra for similar talks.

"It is important that we emphasise our desire for improved trade opportunities and improved relations with old and new friends and allies. It is no secret that there have been stresses in the relationship with Canberra and Washington, and an incoming National Government will address those stresses.

"Cable traffic between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Wellington and our embassy in Washington, released under the Official Information Act, shows that the Labour Government's single biggest foreign policy objective was a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. It has failed to achieve that.

"Australia has achieved it in the past six months, along with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Morocco, but New Zealand has been left out.

"We are not even in the next round of negotiations, which the US has opened with Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. Colombia and Thailand are also earmarked for talks.

"It will be useful, after trade talks in Washington and Beijing, to discuss these issues in Canberra on my visit later in June. It is my belief that New Zealand needs to make use of all opportunities. We will be considerably disadvantaged if we fail to match Australia's success in the Free Trade Agreement with Washington," says Dr Brash.

He leaves on Monday and will spend June 1-3 in Washington, June 4 in New York, June 5-9 in London and June 10-12 in Beijing. He visits Canberra on June 16-18.

At the State Department in Washington, Dr Brash is scheduled to meet Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary James Kelly. He will probably also meet with Special Assistant to the President, Dr Michael Green, officials at Defense and the Treasury, Congressmen, and a number of think tanks.

His detailed programme has yet to be finalised.

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