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US lamb decision mocks NZ's tariff removal

The Alliance says US hypocrisy over New Zealand lamb imports highlights the flaw in New Zealand's reliance on free trade.

Trade Minister Lockwood Smith has conceded the US is likely to impose a 9% tariff on New Zealand's $144 million lamb exports to the US, and a 40% tariff on imports over amounts sent there last year.

"What has New Zealand got in return for destroying thousands of jobs and businesses by making our borders completely open? We've got nothing but doors slammed in our faces for our own exports," Alliance leader Jim Anderton said today.

"New Zealand has stripped away all protection for our industries and we've been told this will encourage other countries to do the same. What has actually happened is that the rest of the world thinks we're mugs.

"The United States has been one of the only countries to have echoed the New Zealand call for extreme free markets. But even the United States is not prepared to tolerate free trade if it means that domestic US producers are disadvantaged.

"The US wants free trade for its companies selling overseas, but protection from other countries selling to the US.

"New Zealand has given free access to our borders for American companies without securing any reciprocal right of entry for our producers into the US.

"The free market is free for them and unfair for us.

"The debacle underlines the incompetence of the Shipley government in trade matters. What sort of negotiator gives up everything and then sits on the sidelines while the other side kicks us in the teeth?"

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