Trade Minister To Attend OECD Ministerial

  • Lockwood Smith

Trade Minister Lockwood Smith leaves New Zealand on Sunday to attend the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) in Paris.

The annual Ministerial Council Meeting is the highest level meeting of the OECD. The meeting will consider a number of issues of importance to New Zealand, including global economic developments, and multilateral trade issues.

"The Ministerial Council Meeting provides a valuable opportunity for New Zealand to have an input into global economic developments with the world's significant developed economies such as the US, the United Kingdom, France and Germany," said Dr Smith.

"The meeting will assess the performance of the global economy, and consider a range of possible policy responses, with a particular focus on employment. New Zealand is part of a region which has recently suffered severe economic and financial shocks, and through our work in APEC on strengthening markets we'll be able to make a valuable contribution to this discussion.

"The meeting will also consider multilateral trade and investment issues, with a particular focus on a new World Trade Organisation (WTO) round of trade negotiations.

"New Zealand's future prosperity depends on free and open access to international markets, and I'll be strongly arguing the case for a new round of comprehensive trade negotiations commencing at the Third WTO Ministerial in Seattle in November 1999," Dr Smith said.

"I also intend to outline to OECD Ministers the New Zealand-led work in APEC under the themes of expanding opportunities for business, strengthening markets and broadening support for APEC, as well as updating the OECD on progress on issues such as the Accelerated Tariff Liberalisation (ATL) package, the APEC Food System and other initiatives under discussion.

Dr Smith will also travel to Budapest in Hungary to attend the third Ministerial meeting of the "Friends of the Round", a group of countries working to build consensus among WTO members that the Third WTO Ministerial in Seattle should launch a new round of global trade negations.

This grouping will be joined by members of the Quad (United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union). It will be an excellent opportunity to review progress on preparation for the Seattle WTO Ministerial Meeting.

Dr Smith returns to New Zealand on Monday, 31 May 1999.