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Productive Discussions with US on Trade Issues

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

11 June 2008
Media statement

Productive Discussions with US on Trade Issues

Following discussions with key Administration and Congressional leaders in Washington over the past two days, Trade and Defence Minister Phil Goff said he was confident that New Zealand would progress towards a free trade agreement with the United States.

Phil Goff met with Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and Deputy Secretary of Defence Gordon England, in Washington. He had extensive discussions with United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab in Arequipa, Peru and Paris.

While in Washington, he also met with key figures in Congress, including Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus and Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Charles Rangel.

He held discussions with members of the 70 strong New Zealand Caucus in Congress including co-Chairs Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher and Congressman Kevin Brady.

He also met key advisors to both Presidential campaign candidates in the areas of defence and trade and economic policy.

“Over the next five months, Washington will naturally be focussed on the 2008 Presidential elections, though the current Administration continues to press forward with its programme to free up trade.

“With the swearing in of a new Administration next January, however, I am confident that New Zealand will be well placed to seek a free trade agreement with either a Republican or a Democratic Administration,” Phil Goff said.

“Republican candidate Senator John McCain has already expressed publicly his support for an FTA with New Zealand.

“If the Democratic candidate Senator Obama is elected there may be some rethinking of the United States trade liberalisation strategy though the Senator has expressed his commitment to the broad principles of freeing up trade.

“Trade and labour, and trade and environment issues may be given greater emphasis.

“However neither should be a barrier to an FTA with New Zealand, and AFL-CIO labour movement chief John Sweeney has previously joined with other key business groups, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Chamber of Commerce, in expressing support for a New Zealand FTA,” Phil Goff said.

“Dairy has been a potentially sensitive issue but the US dairy industry has moved from net importers to net exporters of dairy produce.

“Fonterra works as a joint venture partner with large US companies using its export marketing network to sell around half of the milk powder sold abroad by the US.

“With demand for dairy products exceeding world supply and projected to continue to do so, US diary production is under no threat from New Zealand,” Phil Goff Said

“Chairs of both key Congressional committees Senator Max Baucus and Congressman Charles Rangel have previously signed letters in support of an FTA with New Zealand.

“There is also considerable interest by the United States in the P4 FTA agreement between New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei and its potential to be a building block for a high quality regional FTA.

“New Zealand continues to work with the US to progress towards conclusion of the Doha Round of the WTO, as its first priority. However, we are also keen to move forward in parallel with bilateral or regional free trade agreements consistent with WTO principles,” Phil Goff said.


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