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Kiwis Better Off After 10 Years Of APEC - PM

Prime Minister Jenny Shipley today launched a publication which shows that New Zealanders are much better off as a result of a more open and competitive economy.

The Prime Minister said at the launch of "APEC - 10 Years and Beyond" that the reason this had been achieved was through the pursuit of policies to promote trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation - policies that lie at the heart of the APEC process.

Mrs Shipley said statistics in the publication showed that at the end of 1997, New Zealands economy (GDP) was worth $US65 billion, compared with $US44 billion at the end of 1989.

Per capita, New Zealand?s GDP was $US17,317 at the end of 1997, compared with $US13,213 at the end of 1989. The numbers of New Zealanders employed had also increased from 1.46 million at the end of 1989 to 1.693 million at the end of 1997.

In the area of tariffs, substantial reductions were occurring across the region. For example, China's tariffs have fallen by 57 percent on average, while Korea and Malaysia's have reduced by 59 and 43 percent respectively.

The report is also a collection of views from 10 prominent academics and business people from around the region - Australasia, ASEAN, North Asia, North America and South America.

"The authors do not present a single, homogeneous view of the APEC process. They do, however, offer clearly the view that APEC is a force for the good of the region and that it is here to stay," she said.

"While people have - rightly or wrongly - complained about the process, or the speed at which it moves and gets results, there are few in the region who believe APEC should be scrapped or that New Zealand shouldn't be part of it. Also importantly, few have come up with an alternative."

The Prime Minister said 70 percent of New Zealand's exports go to the APEC region, and 70 percent of its imports are sourced from the Asia Pacific. APEC economies also send New Zealand 70 percent of its tourists.

"The jobs and well-being of New Zealanders are inextricably linked with the Asia Pacific, and the health and stability of the economies of the region. It is absolutely vital for a small trading nation like New Zealand to engage with a process like APEC. If APEC didn?t already exist, we'd certainly be looking to invent it."

"It is also worth noting that APEC's goal, the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the region by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing ones, were agreed only five years ago in 1994.

"This is a new process, that has already achieved much in terms of regional cooperation and a high level of ambition. It has the clear support of the Leaders of the region and you will see that demonstrated again when they meet in Auckland next month."

The publication is part of New Zealand's contribution to its year in the APEC chair, the tenth anniversary of the process creation.

ENDS

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