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Govt ignoring downsides of new Trade Agreement

Media Release: Arena
Sunday March 1 2009

Government ignoring downsides of new Free Trade Agreement

The government is glossing over the downsides of a new trade agreement signed this week, according to a New Zealand research and education network.

On Friday New Zealand signed an agreement establishing the ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).

Dr Jane Kelsey, spokesperson for Arena NZ, said that negative aspects of the agreement were being ignored

“The National-led government and the Labour Party are talking up benefits to the primary production sector, citing quite fanciful predictions of the likely returns, while downplaying the significant impacts of these free trade deals on both the services and manufacturing sectors.”

“Free Trade Agreements are not just about New Zealand getting more meat and dairy into Asia,” Jane Kelsey said. “This agreement has 18 chapters that cover vast areas of government policy including goods, services, investment and intellectual property rights.”

“The agreement reinforces the business model over New Zealand’s services sectors, including public services and infrastructure, and restricts the government’s ability to protect local industry and essential assets from foreign control.”

“In almost the same breath the government acknowledged it was impotent to direct the New Zealand Defence Force to use its purchasing power and taxpayer dollars to stem the outflow of jobs in the local clothing industry offshore.

“On Friday while the so called captains of industry were brought together to work on plans to save New Zealand jobs, in Thailand the New Zealand government was signing an agreement which would limit New Zealand’s rights to secure New Zealand jobs, and restrict our sovereignty over strategic assets and essential services.”

“The government’s devotion to these agreements reflects their crude belief that global free markets really will work, despite the evidence of their failure all around us. New Zealand needs a more sophisticated understanding that these agreements are destructive both socially and economically,” Jane Kelsey said.

ENDS

About Arena:
Arena is an Aotearoa/New Zealand network of individuals and organizations committed to resist corporate ‘globalization’ in all its forms. Arena stands for an alternative development model based on self-determination, social justice, genuine people-centered development and environmental sustainability.

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