Trade Minister Phil Goff has welcomed a United States decision to join negotiations on financial services and investment with four countries including New Zealand, and at the same time to begin a process aimed at possible participation in a comprehensive free trade agreement.
The four countries, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei make up the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, or P4 grouping, which entered into a high quality free trade agreement in 2006. The P4 countries will this year negotiate the remaining chapters of this agreement relating to financial services and investment.
“The announcement today by the US Trade Representative, Susan Schwab, relates specifically to the financial services and investment areas and the decision by the United States to participate in this negotiation,” Phil Goff said.
“However, most significant is her statement that the US would begin a thorough exploratory process to determine whether to participate in full free-trade agreement negotiations with the P4.
“Such a decision would have important implications for New Zealand and the P4. It would bring New Zealand into line with Chile and Singapore which already enjoy free trade agreements with the US. It will also contribute to achieving one of New Zealand’s top and longstanding trade objectives of liberalising trade between our two countries,” Mr Goff said.
“If the US takes the decision to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with the P4, this would also be a very important building block towards wider agreement in the Asia Pacific region,
“The P4 was designed to allow participation by others in the region. The involvement of the US would give it critical mass and encourage others to participate in it.
“A wide agreement between geographically diverse participants who are committed to high quality results would provide impetus for further progress towards trade liberalisation both within our region and hopefully in the broader World Trade Organisation (WTO) context,” Phil Goff said.