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Govt should heed local govt free trade warning

Dr. Russel Norman


Spokesperson on economics, electoral matters and trade

Government should heed warning on free trade deals at local government conference

17th July, 2006.

The Government should heed the warning, given by one of the keynote speakers at the Local Government New Zealand conference today, that free trade negotiations can undermine local government democracy, the Green Party says.

“Dr. Mildred Warner, Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, told the conference that the World Trade Organisation agreements had the potential to undermine local democracy,” Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

“Dr. Warner pointed in particular to the General Agreement on Trade in Services which intrudes deeply into the affairs of democratically elected local and national governments to tell them what they can and cannot do,” Dr. Norman, the Greens’ Economics Spokesperson says.

“Dr. Warner pointed to a case in Mexico where a local council blocked the operation of a toxic waste dump and processing plant, because it was located above the local water supply. The Mexican Government was forced to pay the US company $17 million in compensation under a NAFTA panel ruling for blocking the toxic dump.

“Exactly the same kind of action could result in New Zealand under GATS and yet our Government is rushing in to make commitments and is leading the charge to tighten the GATS rules. It would do well to listen to the comments of experts like Dr. Warner and treat the GATS negotiations with suspicion,” says Dr. Norman.


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