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'Leading the world' in pushing a flawed idea

Media release 12 November 2001

'Leading the world' in pushing a flawed idea

There is no need for New Zealand to lead the world in hampering trade agreements says Business New Zealand.

Business NZ Executive Director Anne Knowles says it is not surprising that NZ's call for labour standards in trade agreements was not supported at the WTO meeting at Qatar last week.

"The idea failed to get support from other WTO delegates because it is fundamentally flawed. Putting labour standards in trade agreements would just make trade agreements less likely to happen.

"Labour standards differ from country to country because of their unique conditions. Imposing compulsory standards would harm the very countries that are trying to develop their economies through trade.

"It's the job of the International Labour Organisation - of which NZ and the other WTO countries are members - to establish labour standards and deal appropriately with any breaches, and there is no point in duplicating that role.

"This point is well understood by the other countries attending the WTO meeting in Qatar - and that is why they did not heed NZ's call. Rather than describing NZ's position as 'leading the world', it may be more apt to say the NZ delegation was 'alone in the world' in pushing a flawed idea," Ms Knowles said.

Contact: Anne Knowles wk 04 4966555 Kathryn Asare 021 555744 for more information

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