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Free trade discussed at Don Brash's US meetings

Don Brash MP National Party Leader

02 June 2004

Free trade discussed at Don Brash's US meetings

After a meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in Washington today, National Party Leader Don Brash says it's clear New Zealand is not on the radar screen for a free trade deal with the US.

"It was a warm, cordial meeting and very informative. But it was made pretty plain to me that a free trade deal between New Zealand and the US is unlikely anytime in the immediate future.

"Achieving a free trade deal was Labour's single biggest foreign policy objective. Unfortunately for all New Zealanders the Government has failed to achieve that goal.

"Mr Zoellick says it's unlikely any free trade agreement involving New Zealand would gain Congressional support. It is certainly off the agenda until after the US Presidential elections.

"National supports every effort to reach a free trade agreement with the US. Without one, it's inevitable the gap between New Zealand and Australia will widen, given Canberra's success.

"Right now I don't see us making rapid progress."

Dr Brash says the recently released National Party taskforce report on US/NZ relations was not discussed at the meeting. The report proposes the removal of the legislative ban on nuclear propulsion, but maintaining a nuclear free policy.

Dr Brash has consistently said any change would require a significant public mandate.

ENDS


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