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Many Questions Hang Over NZ - China FTA

Media Statement
Monday, November 22, 2004

Many questions hang over NZ - China FTA

Many questions remain to be answered before New Zealand finally signs up to the free trade agreement with China, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"It may be tempting, though it would not be business savvy for New Zealand, to take a gung ho attitude into the free trade agreement with China," said Bruce Goldsworthy, EMA's Manager of Manufacturing Services.

"Many questions remain over the measures that should be taken to ensure the ultimate agreement is as secure and fair as possible to all affected parties," he said.

"Some of the questions for which New Zealand manufacturers want more detail involve intellectual property, environmental and other standards, and a host of non-tariff issues which seem to be included in the processes already announced.

"Others are far from transparent. They include for example:

* the extent that the economic modelling work showing export growth of several hundred millions a year to China is of raw commodities such as milk powder and logs, and which could see New Zealand retreat from a knowledge based economy;

* the credibility of the economic modelling showing export growth to China of at least $260 million a year every year from 2007 for the next 20 years;

* the extent the FTA will sponsor trade diversion away from niche markets and into single market dependency.

"Manufacturing is our largest employing sector with 290,000 jobs, 14.7 per cent of the total and substantially more than the next highest sector, retailing. Most of these are knowledge and skills rich and striving to become more so.

"While we welcome the trade initiatives announced at the APEC summit in Chile, we would do well to take stock of what the vision is for New Zealand's development in light of them.

"Getting the speed wobbles with all the new deals on offer threatens to slow the country down, not enhance our growth prospects."

ENDS

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