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Public divided over FTA, poll shows

Dominion Post, Wellington

Public divided over FTA, poll shows

31 March 2008

NZPA. The public is divided over the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China that Prime Minister Helen Clark is due to sign in Beijing on April 7, a poll published today shows.

Details of the FTA - China’s first with a developed country - have been finalised and Miss Clark leaves tonight for a short European trip before going to Beijing for the signing.

The New Zealand Herald-DigiPoll showed 44.7 per cent of those questioned supported the FTA while 32.4 per cent did not. The other 22.9 per cent did not know.

After it has been signed, the FTA will be studied by the Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee and will then be put to a vote in Parliament.

The Government is assured of having sufficient support to pass it because it is backed by the National Party.

Miss Clark yesterday released a statement confirming she would sign the FTA on April 7 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

She said details of the "high quality" agreement would be available only when it had been signed and tabled in Parliament.

"I am confident that we got the very best deal we could which is going to be beneficial to our farmers, but that means beneficial to all of us," Miss Clark said.

The agreement was more than about tackling tariffs, she said, as it gave New Zealand "first mover status" to take advantage of the growing wealth of China’s middle class.