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FTA signed: NZ, Chile, Singapore and Brunei to end tariffs

National Business Review, New Zealand

18 July 2005

FTA signed: NZ, Chile, Singapore and Brunei to end tariffs

Government officials today signed off on a multi-nation free trade agreement that will end all trade tariffs among New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei by 2015.

It was the second major trade agreement signed by New Zealand this year.

In April, the Closer Economic Partnership with Thailand was signed in a ceremony in Bangkok.

The government said other nations were welcome to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, which will remove 90 per cent of tariffs by 1 January next year.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said that New Zealand, as the depositary state for the agreement, was hosting the signing ceremony.

The documents were signed by New Zealand Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton, Singapore High Commissioner to New Zealand Ms Seetoh Hoy Cheng, and the Chilean Ambassador to New Zealand Mr Juan Salazar. Brunei will sign early next month.

"This is a high quality trade agreement of strategic and economic importance to New Zealand. It provides for the elimination of all tariffs among the four countries, a feat not often achieved in trade agreements," said Helen Clark.

"It builds a strategic partnership for New Zealand with three other open and dynamic economies.

"It is also an agreement that has the potential to grow - as shown by Brunei’s decision to join half way through the negotiations. We hope to see others join," she said.

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton told reporters that he had "already had a range of nibbles from other nations in South America and Asia" interested in signing up to the trade deal.

There are currently no trade tariffs between Singapore and New Zealand. This agreement will expand that agreement to include Chile and Brunei.

Also signed today were the accompanying Labour Co-operation Memorandum of Understanding and an Environment Co-operation Agreement.

Together the four countries, which are all members of APEC, have a combined GPD of some $400 billion.

"There is potential for trade flows, currently worth over $2.5 billion, to expand significantly," the government said.