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China FTA Not Enough - NZ First

Media Release

8 April 2008

China FTA Not Enough - NZ First

New Zealand First has described the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China as “not enough” and will vote against the legislation in Parliament.

Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters said there was simply not enough in the deal for this country for New Zealand First MPs to support it.

“Just over two decades ago the trade doors to New Zealand were thrown wide open in the vain hope that the rest of the world would reciprocate but that has still not happened.

“Under this FTA we will have to wait up to another 17 years to get the full benefits that have been promised.

“The one industry which could genuinely bridge our serious trade deficit – the primary sector – must wait at least 12 years and up to 17 years to reap the full benefit of this FTA.

“Given that China has effectively had half a free trade agreement with New Zealand for the past 20 years we could have expected more from them.

“When the euphoria settles, people will start realising the seriousness of this situation.”

Mr Peters listed the main areas of concern with the FTA:

* The stated return from the FTA is not worth the risk of exposing the few remaining elements of New Zealand’s manufacturing industry.

* The timing of tariff reductions is weighted heavily in favour of China. What remains of New Zealand’s tariffs will be removed within seven to nine years whereas China has up to 12 years and possibly 17 years to reduce its tariffs.

* A huge imbalance already exists in trade between the two countries. China‘s exports to New Zealand in 2007 totalled $5.59b but New Zealand’s exports to China totalled only $1.95b for the same year.

* The projected benefit in dollar terms will make little impact on the trade imbalance. It should be noted that FTAs with both Thailand and Singapore resulted in a worse imbalance of trade.

* China has very low wages and fewer labour standards than New Zealand. What is left of our local manufacturing industry will simply not be able to compete on a level playing field.

* The movement of labour provisions should fall within existing immigration requirements – not FTAs.

* The increasing levels of imported processed and non-processed foodstuffs from China threaten New Zealand's production of similar goods. New Zealanders should continue to have access to the quality food products of their own country.

* The clauses in the FTA relating to investment are of great concern.

Mr Peters said that New Zealand First remained convinced that tax incentives and a realistic currency value were the way to drive export growth and enable New Zealand to prosper.

The Government had been informed of the New Zealand First caucus decision.

Mr Peters said the issue was a case of “agreeing to disagree” with the Government and did not represent any threat to the confidence and supply agreement.

“Both Labour and National support a Free Trade Agreement with China and our opposition cannot prevent it, but New Zealand First believes it is important to make New Zealanders aware of our position on this matter.

“Since 1984 successive Labour and National governments have told New Zealanders about the benefits of free trade. The long wait for these benefits continues,” said Mr Peters.

ENDS

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