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Trade liberalisation focus needed from APEC

Trade liberalisation focus needed from APEC

"The very thing Helen Clark has, in the past, criticised APEC for, is the very thing New Zealand desperately needs from the meeting this year," says National Party Trade spokesman, Lockwood Smith.

"As Leader of the Opposition in 1999, Helen Clark was critical of APEC 'because of the single minded concentration on trade liberalisation'. In those days she said there are other items that are important."

"With the collapse of the WTO talks at Cancun, the Doha Trade Round will only progress if the United States stays is committed to it."

Dr Smith says the APEC Leaders' Communiqué will be the first opportunity for the US to reaffirm that commitment.

"Ever since Cancun, US Trade Representation, Robert Zoellick, has been talking about abandoning the multilateral process in favour of bilateral and regional negotiations. None of those include New Zealand.

"It's vital the US does maintain its commitment to the Doha Trade Round and APEC, representing half of global trade, provides an excellent opportunity for US President, George Bush, to recommit to the WTO process.

"In her brief 'pull aside' meeting with President Bush, Helen Clark should focus on this real issue. It's no use talking about our bilateral FTA prospects, because we have none.

"Helen Clark must instead lay her old views on trade liberalisation to one side and help convince the US President of the value of maintaining momentum in the WTO," says Dr Smith.

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