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Hongkong Free Trade Agreement: Some Real Bullets

19 April 2001


The Government is correct to portray negotiations with HongKong for a free trade agreement as breaking new ground. HongKong has no tariffs and few other barriers to New Zealand trade in either goods or services while strategic benefits are a bit hard to quantify, said Simon Carlaw, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Manufacturers Federation.

"There are certainly opportunities for growing New Zealand trade in high value added goods and services that should be seized with both hands. At the same time, there are New Zealand industries in transition that employ large numbers of people whose only realistic job alternative will certainly include the unemployment benefit at a direct cost to New Zealand taxpayers.

"The forthcoming negotiations must flow from a more thorough and committed consultative process with business and industry than has ever been the case before. Second, the Government should explain why we are to negotiate with HongKong when enhanced access to China would present far larger and more tangible benefits for more New Zealand exporters. And third, the Government needs to demonstrate that it is willing to face the real costs of trading strategic possibilities against quantifiable impacts.


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