INDEPENDENT NEWS

Clark Should Be More Open On What She’s Up To

Published: Thu 14 Nov 2002 05:05 PM
Clark Should Be More Open On What She’s Up To
The United States Trade Representative, Bob Zoellick’s announcement that U.S. President George Bush had authorised him to advise Congress that free trade negotiations would be initiated with Australia, puts real pressure on the New Zealand Government to achieve the same thing in the next 3 months, says National’s Trade Spokesperson, Lockwood Smith.
“Once negotiations start in earnest with Australia in 3 months time, it won’t be long before investment flows move against New Zealand. The shadow boxing’s over. It’s time now for Prime Minister Clark to be more up front about how she’s handling this vital issue.
“It seems an extraordinary coincidence that in the week it was widely expected the U.S. would announce the initiation of FTA negotiations with Australia, Helen Clark announced New Zealand’s involvement in the build up against Iraq with the commitment of a frigate and P3 Orion to the Gulf.
“Three days later, lo and behold, the US Administration announces it plans to approach Congress for its opinion on the merits of an FTA with New Zealand. This is the first time NZ has been mentioned as a possible FTA partner.
“Australia has achieved the initiation of an FTA negotiation ahead of us because it has been a consistent ally to the United States these last 20 years. While New Zealand has supported the war against terror in Afghanistan, we walked away from the United States in the mid-80s and allow naval ships from India and China to visit New Zealand but not those from the United States. We are not an ally, Australia is.
“On returning from APEC last month, Clark acknowledged, “you’ll never get trade to prosper if you can’t get on top of some basic security issues”.The United States has been trying to encourage New Zealand to see that for some time.
“Now that Clark has accepted that basic linkage between trade and security, it’s important that she’s honest with New Zealanders about the moves she’s taking to convince the United States that we do take the relationship between trade and security seriously. The announcements this week cannot be just coincidental.
“New Zealanders deserve to know what Prime Minister Clark is up to as she seeks to achieve the negotiations with the U.S. that Trade Ambassador Bob Zoellick has announced for Australia today,”says Lockwood Smith.

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