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Onwards And Upwards With Trade For New Zealand!

27 August 2002


TLN: "Onwards And Upwards With Trade For New Zealand!"

"We welcome the Government's clear recommitment today to prizing open overseas markets for New Zealand" says Trade Liberalisation Network Acting Director Philip Lewin.

Mr Lewin was commenting in response to this morning's Speech from the Throne by the Governor-General.

"Trade was not the bogey issue in the election campaign which some wanted to make it. Better access to other countries' markets is of vital importance not only to New Zealand exporters, but to our whole national well-being. Thankfully, this now seems to be accepted across Parliament."

"New Zealand lives by its commerce with the rest of the world. This means that, when we go out to our offshore markets, domestic politics should stop at the three-mile limit. Trade is too important to our whole country to play political games with" Mr Lewin stressed.

Mr Lewin, who is also CEO of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce, likewise welcomed the Government's reaffirmation that trade will deliver practical benefits to communities. "The case for more trade rests squarely on the need for all New Zealanders to earn a better living from the world outside. This is neither ideology nor mumbo-jumbo, but just plain common sense" Mr Lewin added.

"TLN agrees that the World Trade Organisation's current Doha Round offers the best hope of further solid gains on trade access and rules." Mr Lewin continued. "Thanks to countries like New Zealand and the efforts of Mike Moore and other international statespeople, the Doha Round is now well under way. New Zealand must be unflagging in its commitment to this goal. We must stay the course. A global deal in which there are global winners will be the surest way for New Zealand to build a bigger trade beachhead."

"Likewise, TLN strongly supports today's emphasis on the importance of our trade and economic links with Australia" Mr Lewin continued. "With its twentieth anniversary coming up next year, CER should be heralded and celebrated on both sides of the Tasman as the world's most comprehensive Free Trade Agreement - even if there is nevertheless still room for improvement!"

"On other fronts, the Government should leave no stone unturned in its efforts to secure a worthwhile and genuinely liberalising bilateral trade deal with Hong Kong" Mr Lewin continued. "And the prospect of further negotiations, with the likes of Taiwan and Chile should be materialised as quickly as possible. TLN will be there, right behind any New Zealand Government in all these directions".

"Finally, the goal of a FTA with the USA remains the most glittering prize of all. Again, without underestimating the power of the US farm lobbies to keep competitors locked out, we want the Government to stay intent on this objective - and to keep up the good partnership with New Zealand business that has been established in pursuit of it".

"But while it should be all Kiwi hands to the trade pump, the detailed talking and bargaining is a job for the professionals" added Mr Lewin. "To achieve even a decent part of our trade agenda, we've got to have a well- resourced as well as dynamic trade negotiating team."

"Our Embassies in Geneva, Washington, Brussels, Tokyo, Canberra and other key trade negotiating centres need more frontline staff. They must also be supported back in Wellington by a Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry that is likewise properly funded"

"All in all, we welcome the Government's trade recommitment today - and we will be looking to Ministers to get in tangibly behind this" Mr Lewin concluded.

For further information Philip Lewin 04 914 6517, cell 021 956 026


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