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Clothing union rep on China trade

Clothing union rep on China trade - fact-finding mission

The impact on the New Zealand clothing industry of China’s accession into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the end of the Multi Fibre Agreement will be studied by Clothing Workers Union Industry Officer Robert Reid in a visit to east Asia during the first two weeks of November.

“It is important that the increasing trends of the global free trade agenda are closely monitored,” said Reid. “We know that thousands of jobs have been lost in the local Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Carpet (TCFC) industries over the last decade because of the poorly thought-out free trade policies of successive New Zealand Governments."

Reid will be attending two conferences on these topics in Guangzhou, China and Okayama, Japan, and will be talking to the Hong Kong Council of Trade Unions and Clothing Union representatives about the stalled New Zealand Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement.

He will also be attending the Guangzhou Conference as representative of ARENA (Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa). Another ARENA representative, Professor Jane Kelsey has just finished monitoring last week's APEC Ministerial meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico.

The conference in Okayama, Japan has been organised by the Asia Regional Organisation of Textile and Clothing Workers to which the NZ Clothing Workers Union is affiliated.

Reid has played a key role in recent industry, union and government attempts to chart a growth strategy for the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Carpet industries. He was a co-author of the industry strategy document "The Way Forward" and is now on the transition committee to establish a TCFC Industry Development Organisation.

“It has only been over the period of the 1999-2002 Labour Alliance Government that some stability has returned to the local TCFC industry.

“The New Zealand Government is now consulting on the post 2005 tariff regime. We need to be very sure of the impacts of China’s succession into the WTO and the impact of the end of the international Multi Fibre Agreement before New Zealand makes any changes to the current modest levels of tariff protection that the local TCFC industry enjoys,” Robert Reid says.

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