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Trading away our integrity – for what?

Trading away our integrity – for what?

Green media release 7-4-08

The preferential trade deal with China, signed by the New Zealand Government today, gives a fig leaf of respectability to an authoritarian regime while leaving New Zealand businesses to compete with Chinese businesses advantaged by poor labour and environmental standards, says the Green Party.

"To offer preferential trading status to a nation that routinely abuses the human rights of her own citizens and is currently involved in a murderous suppression of the Tibetan people is unacceptable,” says Dr. Russel Norman, Green Party Co-leader.

“The Greens oppose the deal because we believe that maintaining our current trade relationship with China is better than entering a preferential deal.”

The Greens also raised concerns as to whether the deal will really be good for New Zealand anyway.

"This trade deal does not eliminate non-tariff barriers to fair trade - things like forced prison labour, child labour, sweatshop conditions, a ban on independent unions and poor environmental protections. These elements of authoritarian capitalism give Chinese business an unfair advantage over New Zealand businesses and will result in further job losses in New Zealand as tariffs fall.

“I also have serious concerns that the investment provisions of the deal place future New Zealand governments at serious financial risk. If, for example, a Chinese firm were to invest in oil exploitation in the Great South Basin, and our government were at some later point to introduce environmental laws that decreased the value of those investments, the New Zealand taxpayer could end up paying out if the Chinese firm suffered any financial loss.

“And while we're talking about history, perhaps the Government should take note of the outcomes of New Zealand's previous preferential trade deals. Both the Singapore deal and the deal with Thailand have only resulted in an increase in trade deficit with those countries.

"The labour and environment memoranda of understanding are simply greenwash. They are completely voluntary and unenforceable talk shops.”

ENDS

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