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Govt’s inaction risks NZ being shut out of US

New Zealand exporters risk being shut out of the US market because of the Government inaction, given it’s made no effort to build a relationship with its US counterpart, National’s Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“New Zealand continues to be on the receiving end of trade restrictions imposed by the US, having been denied an exemption on steel tariffs which were offered to a number of other countries, and now the US wants New Zealanders to pay more for drugs.

“US President Donald Trump has announced that the US will be negotiating with countries including New Zealand to pay more for medication imported from the US. In response the Prime Minister has said that her Government has not been involved in any discussions to receive an exemption.

“That response is not good enough and it’s not surprising that President Trump is singling out New Zealand given there’s been virtually no contact between the US and the Ardern-Peters Government. After seven months the Trade Minister hasn’t even visited and the Government is eroding the strong relationship National left it.

“The Prime Minister has also probably spent more time with Hillary Clinton than with President Trump.

“And while she’s correct, having the Prime Minister point out that New Zealand is protected from drug price hikes by the TPP is also surprising, given in Opposition Labour insisted those very protections weren’t strong enough.

“Pharmac has always been protected in New Zealand’s trade agreements, including the TPP, so that we can continue to provide cost-effective healthcare for New Zealanders, and that must continue to be protected.

“One way to do so would be for New Zealand’s Trade or Foreign Minister to get to Washington and make our case. The Prime Minister should tell David Parker to get on a plane to do that.”

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