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US-Australia free trade deal an opportunity for NZ


9 February 2004

Media Release

United States – Australia free trade deal an opportunity for New Zealand…..

Australia’s success to secure a free trade agreement with the United States creates a platform for New Zealand to strengthen its case for negotiating a similar arrangement without too much delay.

Congratulating the Australian business community on the part it played in supporting and securing the Australia-United States free trade agreement (FTA) announced today, Andrew Grant, the acting chairman of the New Zealand – United States Business Council said that our special relationship with Australia and the importance of the US market to New Zealand makes it “logical” that a NZ-US free trade arrangement be negotiated on the coat tails of the Australia – US FTA with speed and urgency.

“If we let the issue drift, then there is every likelihood of investment and trade distortions as United States and Australian businesses take up their new opportunities in respective markets and ignore New Zealand,” said Mr Grant.

While he acknowledged that the FTA between Australia and the United States has some significant limitations in key areas, the point that cannot be stressed enough is that Australia now has a strengthened platform on which to build future trade and investment arrangements, and New Zealand doesn’t.

The NZ-US Business Council strongly welcomed today’s announcement from Washington, said Mr Grant. Over the past few years the Council has been strongly active to encourage the New Zealand and United States governments to prepare a case for launching a case for a NZ-US FTA negotiation.

“Independent analysts in Washington support an FTA between our two countries, and we have established a strong voice in the capital.

“As well, numerous members of the US Congress have visited New Zealand and agreed that our wide-ranging CER Agreement with Australia makes it logical that New Zealand be hooked into an arrangement with the United States.”

Clearly, with Singapore having established a FTA with the United States last year, and now Australia, it is important that New Zealand lift its campaign in both Canberra and Washington to join the party, concluded Mr Grant.

ENDS

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