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Shirley slams PM's US-NZ free trade claim

Shirley slams PM's US-NZ free trade claim

Tuesday 1 Feb 2005
Ken Shirley
Press Releases -- Foreign Affairs

ACT Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman Ken Shirley slammed Prime Minister Helen Clark's claim in her address to Parliament today that New Zealand remains ready to enter free trade agreement negotiations with the United States.

"Nothing could be further from the truth and this is without question a deliberate obfuscation by the Prime Minister," Mr Shirley said.

"The US economy is the single largest economy in the world and trade experts have estimated that such an agreement would be worth over $1 billion per year to the New Zealand economy.

"A Chinese FTA is also important and I commend the Government's progress in that direction, but the Prime Minister's own figures confirm that the net benefit to New Zealand is less than half a FTA with the US.

"It is well known to all that the Labour Party's obsolete cold war political mantras are the block to New Zealand making progress with a US FTA. Our senseless ban on the visit of nuclear-propelled vessels must be lifted. Only then can we be on a common footing with Australia in progressing that goal.

"Helen Clark's statement emphasises the importance of CER, but the danger is that Australia would be forced to sacrifice the New Zealand market whenever a conflict arose which threatened the much larger FTA with the US. In the worse case scenario, CER could wither on the vine with New Zealand consigned to the status of an irrelevant outpost in the South Pacific.

"The removal of this senseless ban on nuclear-propelled ship visits is also the stumbling block that prevents the restoration of our traditional relationship with the US which is so important to our regional security," Mr Shirley said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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