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Submissions invited on possible trade agreements

11 October 2004

Submissions invited on possible trade agreements

The Government is seeking submissions from the public on two possible trade agreements, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton announced today.

The Government is preparing for negotiations on a proposed ASEAN/Australia/New Zealand trade agreement. Economic ministers of ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand have endorsed the proposal, and leaders of the 12 countries involved will make a decision in November.

Mr Sutton said that on the assumption that leaders would decide to go ahead, negotiations were likely to kick off next year.

"So we need to get our homework done now."

The Government is also considering whether there is a case for a bilateral trade agreement specifically with Malaysia. The Malaysian Government is doing the same thing.

Mr Sutton said both countries have decided to study the case for a New Zealand-Malaysia trade agreement.

"Once we have done our respective studies, we will be in a better position to decide whether it is a good idea to actually start a negotiation."

He said it made sense to seek views from the public on both proposals simultaneously.

"Given the potential overlap, it will be easier for interested groups to comment on both at the same time. The information and ideas that come in will help shape New Zealand's position in our proposed negotiations with ASEAN. This can also feed into our study of the benefits of a possible trade deal with Malaysia."

Mr Sutton urged anyone with an interest in these countries to take advantage of the public consultation processes.

Two public consultation documents providing further background on each of the processes are available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, www.mfat.govt.nz. The website provides a submission template that people could complete. Submissions are due by 17 December 2004.

Mr Sutton said there would be plenty of further opportunities for the public to provide input on both trade agreement negotiations if and when they progressed.

"It's early days yet, but we need to get as much public input as possible, as early as possible."

The members of the ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


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