INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour must abandon free trade fantasy

Published: Thu 22 May 2003 01:30 PM
Labour must abandon free trade fantasy
The Greens are calling on the Government to abandon its dangerous fixation with the United States and look elsewhere for trade and political allies.
"It's always been 'bleedingly obvious' that Washington would never agree to a free trade deal with New Zealand," Green Co-leader Rod Donald said today. "The only surprise is that it has taken the Government so long to be jolted out of fantasyland."
"Surely, the last two pennies dropped today, with US trade czar, Robert Zoellick announcing that New Zealand will not get a free trade deal, and George Bush snubbing Helen Clark's invite to visit this country.
"Successive National and Labour governments have sacrificed our time, money and sovereignty in pursuit of the pot of gold at the end of the free trade rainbow. This Government's latest sycophantic act was to tag along with America's attempt to force GE food down the throats of European consumers.
"As a very first reaction to the latest snubs from the White House, New Zealand must withdraw from the US complaint to the World Trade Organisation, before we destroy our strengthening relationship with Europe.
"The Bush administration has increasingly assumed an 'America first' stance in which intimidation and aggression have replaced reason and dialogue.
"The Greens applauded this Government for refusing to succumb to bribery and blackmail by supporting Bush's illegal war against Iraq.
"Of course, that rare independent action has meant New Zealand failed one of Zoellick's 13-point criteria for free trade status, in that 'countries must co-operate with the US on foreign policy and national security goals.' "The truth is that even if Bill English gets his way and the entire US Pacific Fleet is anchored in Wellington Harbour, vested agricultural interests in the US will simply never allow free entry for our farm products.
"New Zealand farmers and exporters have been badly misled by the free-market mantra into believing in a cargo cult that would see a grateful America shower them with riches.
"Now it's official: no deal and no pot of gold. At least it means that Jim Sutton can come home from the trade crusade and spend more time as Minister of Biosecurity.
"The real gold lies in protecting our clean, green reputation as a producer of quality products to the world."

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