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US Award For Rt Hon Jim Bolger

10 May 2004

Media Release

US Award For Rt Hon Jim Bolger

Former PM and Ambassador to the United States, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger, is being honoured with an award in Washington D.C next week for his services in promoting free trade and closer ties between NZ and the United States.

The acknowledgement recognising his work in NZ’s premier diplomatic posting is the Torchbearer Award and is being awarded by the US-NZ Council, a US based group of influential business and political leaders. Also being honoured is former seven term Democrat Congressman Calvin M. Dooley from California for his years of work in the free trade arena.

Jim Bolger, currently chairman of NZ Post and Kiwibank, is one of three recent appointments to the New Zealand based NZ-US Council, a high powered business voice which fosters the New Zealand - US relationship. He takes up the role of chairman of the Council, which is active in pursuing the initiation of a free trade agreement with the United States.

Also appointed to the board is Philip Lewin, CEO of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, and former senior trade and policy advisor to Jim Bolger during his term in Washington. Another highly regarded appointment to the board, he has extensive trade policy expertise and commercial experience.

Ellen Gordon, a senior corporate lawyer formerly with a major Auckland law firm, has also been appointed as the Council's new CEO. She brings to the Council her considerable legal and business experience. These appointments will enable the Council to expand its leadership role by working to improve understanding and establish business networks in both countries to ensure our relationship is enduring and broadened.

With Australian PM John Howard traveling to the United States next week to sign off his country's free trade agreement with the US, the NZ-US Council sees the event as a major milestone for New Zealand’s free trade agreement aspirations.

“It is the next logical step in getting New Zealand on the list with the US to commence our own Free Trade Agreement negotiations. It is in our national interest to have an FTA with the US following on from Australia, given our strong economic integration with Australia as a comprehensive single market. New Zealand has to be at the table with the largest economy in the world and our second largest trading partner after Australia, to ensure our economic well being now and in twenty years’ time. Failure to achieve that goal would be a serious blow to New Zealand’s economy and we have to realise the impact this would have for all New Zealanders” says CEO Ellen Gordon.

She will be meeting with the US-NZ Council and NZ officials in Washington next week to provide business support in the campaign for New Zealand following the signing of the Australian FTA.

ENDS

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