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Australia on path to FTA with Malaysia

Hon Lockwood Smith

National Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesman

28 July 2004

Australia on path to FTA with Malaysia - where is NZ?

National's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Lockwood Smith, is calling on the Labour Government to clarify our trade relationship with Malaysia following an announcement yesterday that Australia is working to develop a free trade agreement with them.

Malaysia is New Zealand's ninth largest trading partner.

"Two-way trade with Malaysia is currently worth about $1.3 billion annually and there is tremendous potential for expansion," says Dr Smith.

"We already have an agreement with Singapore and there is one with Thailand in the pipes. To work on one with Malaysia would add further momentum to the vitally important development between ASEAN and CER - that is, between the South East Asian Nations and Australia and New Zealand.

"We cannot afford to slip further behind Australia in trade and investment opportunities with key markets.

"They are well ahead of us in terms of deals with the United States and if they get further ahead with South East Asian markets, we will see our living standards drop even further, relative to theirs.

"I want to know what Labour is doing about this?" says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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