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Trade negotiations strength boosted

19 May 2005

Hon Jim Sutton Minister for Trade Negotiations

Trade negotiations strength boosted

Budget 2005 allocates a further $31.1 million over the next four years to conclude trade agreement negotiations and ensure agreements deliver real gains to New Zealand business and the economy, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton announced today.

"The funding reflects the importance of trade negotiations to the government’s Growth and Innovation Strategy with its emphasis on strengthening New Zealand’s international connections.

"It will ensure we are better placed to improve access to key markets for our goods and services and will help increase the flow of skilled people, knowledge, technology, and investment necessary to New Zealand’s productivity and growth.

"The resources provided now will deliver real benefits to many sectors including, agriculture, forestry, education, tourism, professional services, science and technology and biotech," said Mr Sutton.

The additional funding will be allocated across government departments and agencies involved in trade agreements negotiations and implementation and will be used to support initiatives including: outreach and promotion activities, such as trade missions, road shows, publications and inwards business missions; development of key agency-to-agency relationships at the government level (e.g. CRIs, education, agriculture, competition regulators, tourism); putting in place the necessary monitoring and compliance requirements.

Funding will also be used to foster cooperative mechanisms between governments: to deliver on labour and environment commitments; to resolve problems such as sanitary/phytosanitary issues, non-tariff barriers and regulatory issues; to make trade easier by enhancement of regulatory regime understanding (e.g. customs procedures.)

"Government is already working with business on turning the Thai agreement into new business partnerships, increased sales and greater two way investment," Mr Sutton said.

"For example, a series of information activities are currently under way around the country, organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other government agencies.

"We plan to do the same for the P3 Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) with Chile and Singapore, and for all other trade agreements, once negotiations are concluded."

The remaining 50 per cent of the funding is for additional staffing for government departments and other costs needed to complete trade negotiations currently under way.

"We’re heavily stretched with the current series of trade agreement negotiations with China, ASEAN and Malaysia. We’ve just concluded successfully a Thailand CEP, and we hope shortly to complete the P3 CEP.

"At the same time, we’re heavily engaged with the World Trade Organisation negotiations, which remain our top trade priority."

Mr Sutton said the additional funding would ease resource pressures on New Zealand’s trade negotiators and help ensure we get the best possible outcome.

ENDS

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