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GATT Watchdog Activist Goes to Hong Kong to Liberate Secret Trade and Investment Agreement
28 October 2001
Following the refusal of the New Zealand government to release the text of the Hong Kong-New Zealand "Closer Economic Partnership" free trade and investment agreement, GATT Watchdog activist Aziz Choudry has gone to Hong Kong hoping to liberate the text of the agreement so that there can be serious independent analysis and informed debate about the agreement before it is signed.
"In a letter of August 15, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton admitted to me that the release of Cabinet papers and negotiating proposals would led to such public concern that the agreement would almost certainly not proceed. "In essence", he wrote, "you are asking the two Governments to negotiate the CEP agreement in public. That is a recipe for quick failure."
"Mr Sutton claimed that were he to release details of the negotiations at each stage, Hong Kong would inevitably see it as a 'ham-fisted attempt' by New Zealand to put pressure on it to agree to New Zealand's negotiating proposals. We are tired of the pig-headed arrogance of the free trade cheer brigade in the New Zealand government and have enlisted the help of friends in Hong Kong to see if we can liberate the text from over there."
Mr Choudry is in Hong Kong at the invitation of Solidarity and Resistance Against Globalisation. He spoke on Saturday at the Asian Peoples' Solidarity Forum which is opposed to corporate globalisation, part of a programme of activities opposed to this week's World Economic Forum East Asia Summit meeting to be held there. While in Hong Kong he will also speak with labour rights organizations and unions about the proposed agreement.
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