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United States-New Zealand trade agreement

The New Zealand Government has always thought that achieving a trade agreement with the United States would be a challenge, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Reported comments by United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to the agriculture committee of Congress simply confirm this, Mr Sutton said, rather than signalling any new difficulty.

"Mr Zoellick's prepared statement does not mention New Zealand.

"In response to questions about New Zealand, Mr Zoellick confirmed that he doesn't expect New Zealand to be linked to an Australian-United States trade agreement. Neither do we ? we think a parallel but separate negotiation, following or near completion of an Australian-United States negotiation is a more realistic prospect."

Mr Sutton said New Zealand will continue to work closely with Congress and the American business community, including the agriculture sector, to explain the desirability of a trade agreement with New Zealand.

He said the working relationship between New Zealand and the United States on World Trade Organisation and other trade issues was in very good shape, and had clearly not been affected.

"Co-operation between New Zealand and American meat and dairy producers has also been strengthening, which has the potential of lessening the fears of competition which loom so large in some people's minds

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