TRADE MINISTER TO VISIT GENEVA, LAUSANNE, LONDON AND WASHINGTON DCInternational Trade
Trade Minister Lockwood Smith departs New Zealand today for meetings in Geneva, Lausanne, London and Washington DC.
Dr Smith will be participating in the "Friends of the New Round" Ministerial, the group of countries working to ensure the successful launch of a new round of trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation.
"The Lausanne meeting will bring together Ministers of the Quad (the US, EU, Canada and Japan), leading developing countries, including Brazil, India and Egypt, and countries which, like New Zealand, have played key roles in the two previous "Friends" Ministerial Meetings in Hong Kong and Budapest," Dr Smith said.
"As the final preparatory meeting for the Seattle Ministerial Conference which is expected to launch the next WTO negotiating round, this is a very important meeting for New Zealand. Obviously, the nature and scope of WTO negotiations on agriculture, as well as trade in services and industrial products (including fish and forest products), are very important to New Zealand.
"New Zealand's producers are highly innovative and competitive, but barriers to trade limit our ability to compete internationally. This round provides a real opportunity to achieve better access to overseas markets for our exporters, Dr Smith said.
Dr Smith will also formally open the new premises of the New Zealand Permanent Mission that provides representation to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament and the WTO in Geneva.
In London Dr Smith will meet with UK Agriculture Minister Nick Brown to discuss the EU's preparations for Seattle, gain Minister Brown's perspective on the WTO negotiations and identify areas of common ground in the lead up to the WTO Seattle Ministerial.
Dr Smith's visit to Washington DC will include calls on key agencies involved with the development of the agenda for the Seattle Ministerial.
"As APEC Chair and a member of the "Friends", New Zealand has been closely involved with preparations for the Seattle meeting. My visit to Washington will allow New Zealand to promote APEC's goals for the new WTO round and gain an insight into the American thinking on deliverables at Seattle," said Dr Smith.
Whilst in Washington Dr Smith will also ensure the US Administration remains focussed on "Project Five" (P5), a proposal to develop a free trade agreement between the US, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.
"On his recent visit to New Zealand, President Clinton expressed interest in P5, and it's important that New Zealand keeps working with the Americans to advance planning for a ‘state of the art' free trade agreement," said Dr Smith.
"New Zealand will never achieve anything by sitting in Wellington and hoping for a positive outcome.
President Clinton's interest has added huge momentum to the possibility of bringing P5 together, and I'm determined to ensure that the US Administration is left in doubt of the potential to use the agreement to inject real impetus to trade liberalisation in the lead-up to Seattle," Dr Smith concluded.
Dr Smith returns to New Zealand on Sunday, 31 October 1999.