LABOUR ALL AT SEA ON TRADE POLICY

  • Dr Lockwood Smith
International Trade

The Labour Party is all at sea on trade policy, according to Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.
"Phil Goff's policy release states that he would introduce a ‘new and vigorous approach' to the promotion of New Zealand's trade interests," Dr Smith said.

"This is in stark contrast to statements by aspiring trade spokesperson Jim Sutton, who recently said that Labour would ‘do little to change the National Government's free trade policy'.

"Aside from contradicting and sidelining Mr Sutton, Phil Goff's policy statement fails to provide any substance to support his so-called ‘new and vigorous' approach.

For example, Mr Goff says that Labour would take ‘determined action' against the United States over its decision on lamb tariffs. I'd welcome Mr Goff's comments as to precisely how New Zealand could be more determined in its response to the US decision. New Zealand and Australia have taken the US to the trade equivalent of the world court over its decision on lamb, and you can't get more determined than that.

"If Mr Goff has any suggestions as to how we could be more determined aside from adopting the harmful approach suggested by Mr Sutton, who suggested that US President stay away from APEC, he should put then up for scrutiny.

"Mr Goff also says that trade policy must secure market access for our exporters, but he overlooks the fact that in the last year alone, we've delivered:

* Access for New Zealand salmon exports to Australia;

* Access for New Zealand cherry exports to Korea;

* Access for New Zealand apple exports to India;

* Access for New Zealand kiwifruit exports to the US;

* An agreement to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore;

* An agreement to investigate a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore & Chile;

* An agreement to investigate a Free Trade Agreement with Australia and the Association of South East Asian Nations;

* The prospect of a Free Trade Agreement with the US, Australia, Chile & Singapore;

"By contrast, Labour's record on trade policy is appalling. When we took office in 1990, the US wasn't even talking to New Zealand after six years of Labour Government. In 1999, Helen Clark runs hot and cold on APEC. Jim Sutton and Michael Cullen can't agree on import tariffs, and now Jim Sutton's been sidelined by Phil Goff's policy which is large on puffery, but very short on substance," Dr Smith concluded.