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Minister: New Zealand-ASEAN free trade deal close

Xinhua, China

Minister: New Zealand-ASEAN free trade deal close

23 April 2008

WELLINGTON, April 23 (Xinhua) — New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff said on Wednesday that free trade talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may be finished by June.

But he warned the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce that the deal will not be as comprehensive as the Free Trade Agreement with China.

"In negotiating with the ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand are dealing with 10 diverse countries with very different levels of development," Radio New Zealand quoted him as saying.

"Those countries negotiating as an ASEAN bloc have reached agreements with other countries like China, Japan and South Korea but generally they have been at a low level of ambition," Goff added.

ASEAN groups Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei.

Goff added he and Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Crean will be negotiating hard at a meeting in Bali, Indonesia, next week to close the deal between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand.

He expects the deal to deliver credible commercial benefits in goods, services and investment.