INDEPENDENT NEWS

Jim Sutton Speech - Launch Of Trade Booklet

Published: Wed 18 Sep 2002 10:18 AM
Hon Jim Sutton Speech
Launch Of Trade Booklet, Wellington
Simon Murdoch, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Trade is vital to New Zealand. It is vital to the living standards and well-being of all our citizens.
It's something we have to repeat over and over again.
For those of us who work in the trade field, it may seem obvious why we trade with other nations, and how this benefits us. Unfortunately, it is not.
It is important that people do understand what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does, both in New Zealand and overseas, on behalf of all New Zealanders. And what other departments such as the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and Trade NZ officials do, alongside our diplomats.
So, here we are tonight to launch this booklet, Questions for a Trading Nation.
This 30-page glossy booklet asks many of the common questions about trade, and clearly answers them. We have a first print run of 15,000 copies. I hope it will see wide distribution, and perhaps more print runs. Do we have a potential bestseller on our hands?
As many of you will know, my background is in farming.
Our rural sector is one that produces more than 80 per cent of its goods for export, so international trends and market access breakthroughs mean a lot for our farmers, growers, and foresters.
A study published earlier this year showed that every sheep, beef, and dairy farmer earned an extra $11,500 a year from 2000 because of gains in access due to the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations.
But trade gains are not just for farmers or people connected with agriculture.
Those gains are also for people working in manufacturing, people trading in services, and for consumers.
New Zealand is a trading nation. We put a lot of resources into our international negotiations, mostly for our own national interest, as you would expect.
However, I want to emphasise strongly that our efforts ? the efforts of the men and women in this new building ? are not solely in just our nation's interests.
I was at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, Qatar. New Zealand negotiators were key in brokering an agreement on TRIPS issues which ensured that developing nations suffering public health crises could access cheap drugs. That agreement was the first one achieved at the Doha meeting, and I believe it was the circuit breaker that ensured the success of the whole meeting and the launch of the new round of international trade negotiations.
Now, we're starting to see some of the fruit of that TRIPS agreement. Just last week GlaxoSmithKline announced it has further reduced the not-for-profit preferential prices of its HIV/AIDS medicines by up to 33% and its anti-malarial medicines by up to 38% in 63 developing countries.
New Zealand's trade policy hinges on a belief that we all do better when we concentrate on doing what we do best, and trading with others to obtain the goods and services we want which others produce best.
We believe that should be governed by rules to ensure the international system is fair. We believe that environmental and labour standards have a role as well.
This booklet sets out clearly many of the issues that people struggle with. I think it is an important contribution to the effort to explain what central government is doing in the trade field.
I hope you all get a copy - and that you pass it on.
Thank you.
ENDS

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