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Free Trade: Better Forward Than Back

9 February 2004
PR 20/04

Free Trade: Better Forward Than Back

Australia's trade deal with the United States will hopefully add impetus to multi-lateral trade talks in the Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation, said Tony St. Clair, Chief Executive of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Federated Farmers certainly favours anything that is moving toward trade liberalisation - although we would have preferred progress in a multi-lateral forum rather than this bilateral agreement," he said.

"The Cairns Group ministerial meeting takes place in a few weeks in Costa Rica. Hopefully the Australia-U.S. deal will put some renewed vigour into those talks as well."

Mr St. Clair said he believed that Australia and New Zealand should be in a tighter agriculture trade block as their industries were more complementary than competitive.

"It's rather sad that we are not pushing ahead as one and not part of this whole negotiated outcome."

However, Mr St. Clair said that New Zealanders should not be too downcast about Australia's breakthrough.

The deal also underscores the importance of giving more resources to New Zealand's trade negotiators. New Zealand's team is highly competent but is tiny in comparison to Australia's, which is now benefiting from its investment.

"The pressure now is on Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton to ensure that New Zealand is out there gaining market access. Because if we haven't got market access, there is no agriculture, there is no trade, there is no New Zealand."


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