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Singapore makes the most of unequal 'partnership'

Singapore makes the most of unequal 'partnership'

Green Co-leader, Rod Donald is calling on the New Zealand and Singapore governments to explain the benefits to this country of the free trade deal between the two.

Singapore's Trade and Industry minister is currently in New Zealand for a review of the Closer Economic Partnership agreement.

"I'm sure the Singaporeans are just delighted with the 'deal'," said Mr Donald. "And why wouldn't they be? Their trade surplus with New Zealand has gone from $24 million in 2000, the year before the deal was signed, to $323 million in 2003.

"New Zealand's exports to Singapore have dropped 37 per cent - or $180 million - in the three years we've enjoyed a 'closer partnership'.

"The two Jims - Trade Minister, Jim Sutton and Economic Development Minister, Jim Anderton - promised that the agreement would increase our exports to Singapore. If they're sticking by that measurement of success, then today would be a good opportunity to make an apology to the manufacturers and workers who have lost their livelihoods as a result of such misplaced optimism.

"It's no good claiming that the deal is a success simply because two-way trade has increased. Any sensible business-person will tell you it's the bottom line that counts - and the trade figures show that this deal has been to our cost.

"Yesterday's announcement that the Electrolux factory in Christchurch is shifting to Australia, with the loss of 150 jobs, is a reminder that our manufacturers need nurturing if they are to survive," said Rod Donald.

"Every week brings news of factories closing or moving off-shore because they can't compete with products from countries which subsidise their industries or that don't observe the same labour and environmental standards as we do.

"If we are to enter into a 'trade partnership' with any country, the rules must apply equally to both countries and the benefits must be shared."

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