No progress for NZ in US FTA

Published: Mon 22 Nov 2004 01:42 PM
Hon Dr Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Foreign Affairs & Trade Spokesman
22 November 2004
No progress for NZ in US FTA
“The Opposition remains sceptical about Labour’s ability to deliver on its previous number one foreign policy objective, despite what Helen Clark claims is strong support in Washington for a free trade deal with the US,” says National Party Trade spokesman Lockwood Smith.
“Helen Clark also managed to secure a ‘pull-aside’ with the US President at last year’s APEC, where she expressed ‘concern’ about Australia winning a free trade deal while New Zealand was not even in the queue.
In October last year, Helen Clark was quoted as saying ‘I explained that our concerns were around business and investment diversions’ … ‘He took that on board. The conclusion I reached at the end of the conversation is that no door is closed to New Zealand.’
“A year has past, and it would appear precisely nothing has changed.
“And from discussions I had in Washington seven weeks ago, I concluded there has been little movement since last year.
“The cable traffic shows that securing a Free Trade Agreement with the US was once the Labour Government’s number one foreign policy objective.
“But right now we aren’t even in the queue, and we’re waiting behind countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Guatemala and Honduras.
“New Zealand needs to reach a point where we have an independent international voice and where we can agree to disagree with the US, without resorting to international mud-slinging,” says Dr Smith.

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