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More Active Support for Trade Needed

Friday 22 August - Media Release

NZ Trade Organisations Meet - More Active Support for Trade Needed

There is little doubt New Zealanders support trade but a more active approach to energise this support is now required.

This was the conclusion reached by business, education and government participants at a meeting hosted by the Trade Liberalisation Network and law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in Wellington today. A similar group will meet in Auckland next Friday.

The group met to discuss ways to enthuse New Zealanders about the need to support on going work to free up international trade and to maintain the open trading environment we currently enjoy.

"For a long time business has relied on government to promote the benefits of trade liberalization. Now, with the World Trade Organisation Ministerial mid-term review about to take place in Mexico, is a good time to start sharing that responsibility" said meeting Chair and TLN Board Member, Jennie Langley.

"We would like to see business leaders take a much more active role in explaining the value of more access to overseas markets and the benefits of our own open market. Both of these have been hard fought to get to where we are today but it's vital that we continue to work for more," she added.

The group agreed on the following ways that individuals and organizations might increase their effectiveness:
- take a real interest in international trade developments and prepare for the opportunities that will eventuate;
- speak up for trade liberalization and the need for the WTO;
- offer public support, especially through their own organizations and networks, for the government's trade policy stance; and
- be pro-active in ensuring the Government knows what trade barriers businesses are facing in local and foreign markets.

"Defending an open economy means standing up to those who want to maintain tariffs, it means telling the Government when domestic regulation makes local business uncompetitive and it means responding with equal conviction to critics of the World Trade Organisation," said Ms Langley.

In recent years trade liberalization has meant cheaper imports, lower prices and a better quality goods and services for all New Zealanders.

Ms Langely acknowledged that while countless studies showed that protectionism stifled job creation, promoted inefficiency and hindered growth, there were of course some sectors of the economy which found it harder to adjust and reap the benefits than others.

"But the reality is there can be no going back. We have to accept that some businesses will find adapting difficult. In these cases there is the need to plan accordingly.

"For New Zealanders to enjoy the same sorts of benefits larger economies do, we must become more actively engaged, both at home and abroad," Langley concluded.


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