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Prime Minister Urges Caution On Trade Policy

The incoming Government should be exercise great caution before advocating a unilateral shift in New Zealand's trade policy because the future prosperity of New Zealand and the employment of many workers could be at stake, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"New Zealand exporters know very well that some of the international calls for consideration of environmental and labour issues in trade negotiations are simply masked calls for non-tariff barriers to trade.

"Some of the calls are coming from nations or blocs that have long resisted opening up their markets to free trade or have large protected sectors within their economies.

"It would be tragic for New Zealand exports and jobs if we slowed or reversed the process which has brought great progress in opening up markets to New Zealand, to the benefit of New Zealand exporters and consumers at large.

"The losers would be New Zealand exporters and labourers, while the winners could be entrenched interests who have long advocated barriers to trade.

"I welcome President Clinton's call for a more open process of trade negotiation, including NGOs and unions. In fact, New Zealand facilitated such a process before APEC, which added a lot to the meeting and its outcome.

"I urge the Leader of the Opposition to listen carefully to the advice of the export sector and the officials who have been grappling with these issues for a long time," Mrs Shipley said.


ENDS

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