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Goff to Singapore Asean Economic Ministers meeting

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade
Media statement
26 August 2008

Phil Goff to attend Asean Economic Ministers meeting in Singapore

Trade Minister Phil Goff departs for Singapore today for the annual Asean-CER Ministers meeting, which includes two days of negotiations towards an FTA between New Zealand, Australia and the 10 Asean countries.

"The Asean - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) will have a number of economic and strategic benefits for New Zealand," Phil Goff said.

"One of these is the scale of the potential market for New Zealand goods, services and investment. The Asean economies represent a market of more than 575 million people and are an increasingly important destination for New Zealand goods, service suppliers and outward investment.

"We hope to complete negotiations this year. Officials have made very good progress over the past 12 months, and have successfully resolved between 90 and 95 per cent of the issues before us.

"But as always the remaining five per cent of issues will be the most difficult to resolve. With 12 countries at different stages of development, negotiations are inevitably more complex and time consuming.

"New Zealand's goal is to secure elimination over time of tariffs on the key items of trade interest. We will take whatever time is required to try to achieve this objective," Mr Goff said.

"The presence of all Ministers at this week's meeting provides a good opportunity to work through remaining issues so that we can conclude negotiations and sign a deal hopefully before the end of the year.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean, is made up of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.

"Together, the ASEAN economies represent a global total trade of over US$1,400 billion and is New Zealand's third largest export market for merchandise goods (worth NZ$4.6 billion in the year to June 2008). New Zealand's trade with the region has been growing at 24 per cent per year over the past three years," Phil Goff said.

"But it is not just about trade. A key strategic goal for New Zealand is to be an integral part of the regionalisation that is underway in the Asia-Pacific.

New Zealand has a long history of positive engagement with ASEAN as a Dialogue Partner spanning back to 1975. With the increasing importance of trade and investment linkages between the twelve ASEAN-CER economies, an FTA is seen as an important mechanism by which to deepen and sustain economic ties.

"Also on the agenda is a non-governmental study into the possibility of a closer Closer Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) - between New Zealand, Australia, the Asean countries, plus India, Japan, China and Korea," Phil Goff said.


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