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Mon, May 27, 2002 - Page 21 News List

New Zealand says trade pact with US is desirable


New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark said her nation must reach a free trade agreement with the US to avoid distortions to investments and imports if Australia agrees a separate accord first.

Clark and 22 of New Zealand's chief executives will this week visit Australia to boost trade across the Tasman Sea that separates the neighbors. Australia is New Zealand's top export market, while the U.S. is the second-largest buyer of exports such as farm and mineral products from both Australia and New Zealand.

"It is very important for the New Zealand economy that we be sequenced in reasonably closely with (an Australian and US free-trade agreement, whether in a separate agreement or whether the two come together in the end," Clark told Nine Network's Sunday television program in Australia.

Australia's government Friday said US Senate approval for a trade bill moved Australia closer to an agreement on free trade and A$4 billion (US$2.2 billion) more sales for local businesses.

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