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Youth Against the Thailand/NZ Free Trade Agreement

Youth Against the Thailand/NZ Free Trade Agreement

A Response to the TLN on the Thai Free Trade Agreement

A response to the Trade Liberalisation Network’s comments on the proposed Thai/NZ Free Trade Agreement.

Both the people of New Zealand and Thailand have many reasons to be concerned about the proposed Thai-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Thai dairy farmers have strongly opposed the Australia/Thailand free trade agreement because they fear being out-competed by Australian dairy farmers. Now that the Australia/Thailand free trade agreement has been signed the farmers are now moving their opposition to the New Zealand/Thailand free trade agreement. The NZ/Thai free trade agreement could mean Thai dairy farmers are forced off the land because of imports from New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra.

This will mean Thai farmers will be forced to move into the city to find work. This will lower wages and result in worse working conditions. New Zealand manufacturers can then take advantage of these terrible working conditions and outsource their work from New Zealand to Thailand.

Suse Reynolds, of the Trade Liberalisation Network, implies that the Thai/NZ free trade agreement will help the sweatshop and child labourers of Thailand. Nothing could be further from the truth. The low cost of Thai labour will encourage New Zealand manufacturers to outsource their production to the sweatshops of Thailand to decrease their costs of production. The Thai government will want to encourage foreign investment so they are unlikely to improve working conditions. The free trade agreement will just encourage sweatshop labour not reduce it as Reynolds claims.

Finally Reynolds claims that the poorest New Zealanders have benefited the most from the reductions in tariffs which started in the 1980’s. Research by the Child Poverty Action Group shows that the median real disposable income of the poorest 10% of New Zealanders fell 20% between 1982 and 1998. Meanwhile the incomes of the richest 10% increased by 36%. The rich owners of big retailers have benefited from being able to cheaply import foreign made goods while the poor have suffered job losses and benefit cuts.

The Thai/NZ free trade agreement will benefit a small elite and hurt the poor in both New Zealand and Thailand.

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