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Trade agreements 'an outrage against democracy'

Free trade agreements 'an outrage against democracy'

Jim Anderton MP Sun Sep 12 1999

Jim Anderton
MPThe free trade agreements with Singapore and Chile announced during APEC are an outrage against democracy, Alliance leader Jim Anderton says.

'With no public debate or parliamentary scrutiny and less than three months before a general election the Government is signing away New Zealand's rights to control its own economic destiny.

'The National-Act Government is using APEC to sneak through sweeping economic commitments that put our economy at considerable risk. New Zealanders should at least have the opportunity to consider the consequences of signing free trade agreements with countries that probably don't have a minimum wage and which virtually outlaw democratic trade unions.

'The agreements severely constrain the options of future governments yet they have never been anywhere near parliament of a select committee.

'Just because Singapore and Chile have only a passing acquaintance with democracy, Mrs Shipley seems to think she can bypass New Zealand democracy when she's selling out our country to them.

'It is bizarre for a country like New Zealand with a $7 billion balance of payments deficit to sign a free trade agreement with a country like Singapore which normally has a balance of payments surplus.

'Lockwood Smith has announced that the agreement with Singapore is 'not being done for the great trade benefits in the short term for New Zealand.' Other trading partners, particularly in Asia, are reported to be very concerned about the agreement. So Mrs Shipley is putting our overall trade interests at risk for no obvious gain for New Zealand and simply in the name of ideology.'

The agreement with Singapore eliminates all tariffs by the end of next year.

'Apparently the agreement has already been signed and yet it's not possible for a Member of Parliament to even get a copy of it. It is an abuse of democracy for a future government to be bound by an agreement signed less than three months before the election, when there hasn't been any public debate nor any opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny,' Jim Anderton said.

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