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National list an insult to New Zealand

National list an insult to New Zealand

National’s luring the chair of the WTO agriculture committee and New Zealand’s ambassador to the WTO at a crucial time in multilateral negotiations is a kick in the teeth for all New Zealanders, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today. Mr Sutton said the Doha Development Round was of enormous importance to New Zealand.

“The last round earned us $10 billion over its 10-year implemention period, and the Doha Round has the potential to do much, much more. Already, we have an agreement to eliminate export subsidies – provided the negotiation as a whole is successfully completed.”

Mr Sutton said he agreed Tim Groser was a talented man, but it was highly damaging to New Zealand’s cause to have him pulled out of the Doha negotiations to stand on the National Party list.

“It’s remarkable that the National Party, which always claimed to be the farmers’ friend, has pulled off a political stunt which may do more to derail the campaign for agricultural trade liberalisation than years of Japanese and European protectionism.

“Make no mistake – National did not set out to recruit Tim Groser because he has talent and self-belief – they set out to recruit him because he has a high public profile as New Zealand’s WTO ambassador at the critical stage of a vital trade negotiation.

“In other words, they weighed New Zealand’s vital economic interests against National party political interests, and put the party first.”

Mr Sutton said Tim Groser held his position as chair of the agriculture negotiating committee because he was the nominee of New Zealand as well as having the skills to do the job.

“In my view, anyone accepting such a privileged position is honour-bound to see it through to completion.”

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