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Anderton meets Lockwood's challenge

Responding to Lockwood Smith's challenge to name organisations where our free trade agenda is hurting our international reputation, Jim Anderton has named ASEAN and the WTO.

"New Zealand is regarded with suspicion by members of ASEAN and Mike Moore is having an incredibly tough time trying to become the head of the WTO," Jim Anderton said.

"New Zealand is unable to fully participate in ASEAN and the structures that are developing from it because there is a suspicion that New Zealand is simply there as a stalking horse for free trade.

Jim Anderton also pointed to the unprecedented fight at the WTO over Mike Moore which has threatened to split that body apart.

"The mere fact that traditional trading partners such as Britain and Australia, our biggest trading partner, are against New Zealand's leadership of the WTO shows there is something wrong with New Zealand's stance on free trade.

"When Lockwood Smith's allies such as Michael Barnett from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce start questioning our free trade or die stance it is very clear we have gone too far.

"There is no way that big players in world trade want to play by their own rules. Why is it okay for us to sacrifice our clothing and car assembly industries by removing tariffs while the USA imposed tariffs on our lamb? The answer is that free trade is only supported by the big players when it suits their interest. Unfortunately the interests of large countries seldom coincide with the interests of smaller nations like NZ.

Mr Anderton also replied to Lockwood Smith's overly glossy picture of the economy over the last ten years.

Lockwood Smith says National has created 286,000 jobs.

"In March 1986 about the time we started wholesale removal of tariffs there were 1,292,000 full time jobs. In March 1999 there were only 1,324,000 full time jobs an increase of only 32,000 jobs in 13 years of free trade, and less than the increase in New Zealand's population over that time.

"At the same time New Zealand' foreign debt has increased from $33 billion in 1986 to $64 billion in 1991 and is now at $101 billion. A 58% increase under this National-led government

"Lockwood's rhetoric is as about as convincing as the expensive APEC ads on television," Jim Anderton said.

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