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Senators encourage Bush about FTA negotiations

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Trade

15 March 2006

Senators McCain and Sununu encourage President Bush to launch FTA negotiations with New Zealand

The New Zealand Government has welcomed the letter sent to President Bush encouraging him to launch free trade negotiations with New Zealand by Senators John McCain and John Sununu, Trade Minister Phil Goff said today.

Following their January visit to New Zealand, the Senators wrote to President George Bush encouraging him to go forward with FTA negotiations and drawing the President’s attention to the benefits of an agreement for the United States.

“Senator McCain has long supported the launch of free trade agreement negotiations with New Zealand. He was one of 19 influential senators to sign a letter to President Bush in March 2003 pushing for the launch of negotiations. It’s good to see he is continuing to be active on this front and that John Sununu has joined him.

“We also have very good support in the House,” Mr Goff said. “The Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus, which has almost 70 members, started over a year ago and has, as part of its objective, launching FTA negotiations with us.

“And there is very strong support from US corporates including the likes of Boeing, FedEx, EDS and Caterpillar as well as the backing from key sectoral groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce.

“The decision to negotiate an FTA however rests with the US Administration.

“The US Trade Representative, Rob Portman, has been sympathetic to New Zealand’s case but has pursued a strategy of negotiating with larger economies. In line with this it has recently announced the launch of FTA negotiations with Malaysia and South Korea.

“This will leave limited time before the expiry of the current Trade Promotion Authority for other FTA negotiations to commence.

“New Zealand will however continue to press its case as a short and medium-term priority with the United States. This will be on the agenda during my April visit to attend the Partnership Forum in Washington, “ Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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