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Congratulations to Australia and the United States

Hon Jim Sutton Member of Parliament for Aoraki

13 August 2004

Congratulations to Australia and the United States

New Zealand congratulated Australia and the United States on achieving their trade agreement, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton welcomed reports that the Australian Senate had passed enabling legislation clearing the way for implementation of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.

"New Zealand warmly welcomes the successful passage of AUSFTA in both the US and Australia. It sends a positive signal about Australia's and the US' ongoing commitment to trade liberalisation.

"I congratulate Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick for successfully concluding an FTA which provides immediate improvements in market access for both parties, and offers the prospect of further market opening over the coming years.

"New Zealand is well placed to take advantage of any additional economic growth in Australia and the US as a result of AUSFTA, and there may well be new opportunities in third markets if Australia diverts its exports to the US. But we also have concerns about the possible trade and investment diversionary effects of AUSFTA on New Zealand, particularly given the integration of the New Zealand and Australian economies under CER."

Mr Sutton said New Zealand continued to place a high priority on opening bilateral negotiations with the United States.

"A NZ/US agreement offers potential economic benefits for both parties, as well as the broader strategic benefits of linking the New Zealand economy to the world's largest economy, and a key source of investment capital and innovation. The US Administration is well aware of our interest in opening FTA negotiations, and we are continuing to use our diplomatic and other resources to build on considerable support in the United States.

The Australia/US FTA passed through the US House of Representatives and the Senate in July with strong majorities. Its passage today through the Australian Senate means it will now come into force on 1 January 2005.

ENDS

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