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National congratulates Australia on FTA

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesman

13 August 2004

National congratulates Australia on FTA

National Party Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman Lockwood Smith is congratulating both Australia and the US on a successful conclusion to their free trade deal.

"Despite what opponents claimed were shortcomings in the agreement, the Australian Senate has accepted that the benefits of an FTA with the US outweigh the negatives.

"It's time for Jim Sutton and the Labour Government to be honest with the public about its lack of progress on an FTA with the US.

"The Government has been working on a deal for two or three years now and it would appear we have little to show for it.

"Recent reports suggest New Zealand is not even in the queue for an FTA and certainly not before the US Presidential elections.

"The National Party is pleased that the Minister has finally recognised our concerns about the potential damage this could do to our economy.

"With the Government staunchly resisting any suggestion of a cut in company tax, Kiwi businesses will now be tempted to resettle across the Tasman where they will get easy access to the US.

"I think it's a bit late now for Mr Sutton to be claiming that New Zealand 'continued to place a high priority on opening bilateral negotiations with the United States'.

"If that's the case, Mr Sutton should tell the New Zealand public what precisely he is doing about it," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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