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Strong support within Parliament for FTA

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

28 March 2008

Strong support within Parliament for Free Trade Agreement

Trade minister Phil Goff has welcomed indications from six out of eight parties in Parliament that they will support a Free Trade Agreement with China that benefits New Zealand.

“So far only the Greens have opposed the agreement while New Zealand First has reserved its position,” Mr Goff said.

“The reason for the strength of support for the agreement is obvious. While major New Zealand exports to China pay tariffs on average of around 15 per cent, most goods from China can already come into New Zealand duty free. Why wouldn’t New Zealand want to level the playing field?

“It is in New Zealand’s interests to secure preferential entry for our goods and services into the world’s fastest growing economy and our fourth largest and one of our fastest growing markets.

“This agreement will create advantages for New Zealand exporters and consequently jobs and growth in New Zealand. Without it New Zealand exporters would be disadvantaged against competitors whose countries did secure free trade with China,” Mr Goff said

“I welcome Peter Dunne’s announcement today that United Future will support the FTA. Peter told me after being briefed on the agreement that United Future will strongly support it, because it is good for New Zealand.

“As a matter of courtesy, he was invited, as a party that has pledged to support the Government on confidence and supply in Parliament, to come to Beijing if he wished.

“I respect his decision not to come because of his concern about events in Tibet. Many people including myself share his concern but appreciate that New Zealand’s strong and consistent support for human rights anywhere in the world does not require us to trade only with those countries whose political views we support.

“If trade were to depend on imposing political standards, we would not be trading with more than half the world’s population and many countries. That would seriously damage New Zealand without at all advancing human rights,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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