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Trade Minister leaves for ASEAN ministers meeting

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade


1 May 2008
Media statement

Trade Minister leaves for ASEAN ministers meeting in Bali

Trade Minister Phil Goff leaves today for Bali to take part in a series of meetings this weekend with ASEAN Economic Ministers working towards concluding the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

“The timing of the meeting in Bali is significant,” Mr Goff said.

“It presents ministers with the opportunity to provide guidance to their lead negotiators on outstanding issues. A successful outcome from Bali could see negotiators conclude the deal by August this year though the outcome could be delayed if differences cannot be resolved.

“ASEAN is a hugely important market for New Zealand and we are working for the best possible outcome for our businesses. Taken together the region is now our third largest export market – worth over $4.1 billion to us for the year to March 2008. We are also witnessing tremendous growth with the ASEAN countries. In the last year alone our exports to the region grew by approximately 36 per cent.

The ANZFTA negotiations have been ongoing for the past three years with fourteen rounds held to date, the most recent having taken place last week in Brisbane, Mr Goff said.

“Ministers are hopeful that following the Bali Ministerial meeting if differences can be resolved, the next round of negotiations, scheduled for Hanoi, Vietnam, in early June will be the final round, allowing Ministers to formally sign the agreement at the ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting in Singapore in late August.

“Because of the complexities involved with negotiating an agreement between 12 countries, a deal is initially unlikely to be as comprehensive as the New Zealand-China FTA. However, there will be significant advantages to New Zealand businesses from an agreement. Beyond the purely commercial aspect the AANZFTA negotiations are hugely important for New Zealand. The negotiations are a core element of our strategy of regional economic integration,” Mr Goff said.

“For New Zealand to be a key part of the process of regionalism which is currently unfolding, we need to ensure that we are fully engaged, both economically and strategically with ASEAN. This agreement is an opportunity to get in at the ground level of what could become an expanding economic bloc.”

“I will be meeting in Bali bilaterally with Australia and key ASEAN partners. I also have scheduled bilateral meetings with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath. Our discussions will include the latest push for progress on the Doha round.” Mr Goff said.


ENDS

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