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Trade Network Welcomes APEC Developments

Hooray for FTAs! Trade Network Welcomes APEC Developments

New Zealand is a net beneficiary of lower barriers to trade, said Suse Reynolds, Executive Director of the Trade Liberalisation Network.

She was responding to developments at the APEC meeting in Santiago, Chile in recent days. Three of these were particularly relevant to New Zealand business.

"The APEC Business Advisory Council's proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific is terrific. It sends an important message both regionally and internationally to governments that business leaders representing 21 countries and 70% of world trade are right behind their governments' efforts to make international trade easier," said Reynolds.

"The added impetus given to the P3 agreement to create a trade agreement between New Zealand, Chile and Singapore is also welcome. Not only does it provide the starting point for an APEC wide agreement but raises awareness of the tremendous trading opportunities for New Zealanders on both sides of the Pacific."

While these two developments were important, Reynolds said the announcement that China and New Zealand would commence negotiations as soon as possible on a trade agreement was likely to have the most immediate impact.

"This announcement is great news for all New Zealanders. At its heart it is about more opportunities and more jobs for us all," said Reynolds.

She acknowledged that concluding an agreement with China was likely to require adjustment in some industries, particularly for those in the

clothing, footwear and textile industries.

"These industries are, however, as aware as any New Zealand businesses is, that they must be internationally competitive.

"The Government's tariff policy, World Trade Organisation developments, and even exchange rate movements which in the last two years have made Chinese imports 40% cheaper, have all been sending strong signals about the need to prepare for increasingly open markets. Furthermore the environment for job creation could not be better in New Zealand, with unemployment at record low levels," Reynolds pointed out.

"Claims that concluding an agreement with China will perpetuate the plight of child labourers, political prisoners and sweatshop workers are misleading. On the contrary agreements like these bring greater wealth and greater exposure to the international community, both of which bring pressure to bear on the elimination of these appalling practices."

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