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The real cost of Clark's Thai takeaway

The real cost of Clark's Thai takeaway

Workers in New Zealand and Thailand will pay the price of any so-called "free trade" deal with Thailand, Green Co-leader Rod Donald warned today.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has announced that New Zealand could sign a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand within a year, and establish a Closer Economic Relationship by 2010.

"Thailand has an appalling record of exploiting children and abusing workers' rights," said Rod Donald. "More trade with New Zealand will only increase the misery in the sweatshops of Bangkok."

Mr Donald noted that even the official minimum adult wage in Thailand is less than $1 per hour and that the ILO 2001 yearbook reported 173,000 children between 13-14 years and almost two million children between 15-19 were used in industry, often in appalling conditions.

"How can New Zealand businesses compete on such an uneven playing field? The answer is: they can't.

"Wiping out tariff protection for our clothing manufacturers will simultaneously boost the number of Thai sweatshops and doom thousands of New Zealand workers, and the businesses they work in, to the free trade scrap heap."

"Contrary to Helen Clark's claims, any free trade deal is likely to lead to an increase in New Zealand's trade deficit with Thailand. It has already grown from zero to over $234 million in the last five years.

"Labour promised that the Singapore free trade agreement would benefit New Zealand," said Rod Donald. "Instead the trade deficit has grown by $354 million over the two and a half years since it took effect.

"Why does Labour want to sacrifice more manufacturing jobs when the only reward is a larger trade deficit?"

ENDS

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