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Goff announces new free trade agreement negotiations

New Zealand Government

Press Release

Goff Announces New Trade Agreement Negotiations

Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Trade

7 September 2006

Foreign Ministers from the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states have agreed to commence negotiations for a free trade agreement with New Zealand, Trade Minister, Phil Goff announced today.

The decision follows a visit by Mr Goff to the region in March when he gained in principle support from ministerial counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the UAE for the negotiations.

"The chance to remove constraints on trade with the Gulf states is important for New Zealand", Mr Goff said.

"The six states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - collectively took $720 million in exports from New Zealand over the last year. That makes the region only a slightly smaller market for us than a major market like Germany.

"An FTA is important because cutting tariffs and other barriers to trade faced by New Zealand exporters will strengthen and protect the competitiveness of our exports in a large and rapidly developing market.

"Our traditional big exports like dairy and meat should stand to benefit, but so too will areas like forestry, horticulture and manufacturing. Emerging and rapidly growing areas such as services, ICT, construction materials, medical equipment and education also stand to gain.

"New Zealand officials will travel to the region within a few months for initial discussions on the coverage of the agreement, negotiating modalities and time lines. This will be followed by our Government issuing a discussion document to consult with and seek views from New Zealand companies and the public. Cabinet will then approve our negotiating mandate and the process of formal negotiations will begin", Mr Goff said.