Wednesday 2 April 2008

Maori Party opposes FTA with China

Press statement: Hone Harawira,
Foreign Affairs spokesperson
1 April 2008

The Maori Party caucus has confirmed that they will oppose the Free Trade Agreement with China.

³There are many reasons why we oppose it,² said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hone Harawira, ³but I guess you could sum it up by saying we support fair trade, rather than free trade.

³Like everyone else, we¹ve got big concerns about China¹s lack of respect for human rights and the environment, but we¹re also worried about our own government¹s unwillingness to take these issues up with China. Until we see progress, we will oppose this deal,² he said.

³On another level, Free Trade Agreements compromise our sovereignty by overriding domestic law,² said Harawira, ²and if China¹s repression of Tibet is any indication of their respect for the rights of indigenous people, then Maori have every right to be wary of giving them any special privileges here.

³We also recall fighting against other international trade agreements which would have breached the Treaty of Waitangi,² said Harawira, ³and we¹re concerned that the lack of consultation with tangata whenua means that this one will breach the Treaty as well.²

³And I¹m surprised at how quiet the unions seem to be about this, given that these agreements normally lead to a lowering of work standards and wage rates in the smaller nation.

³Although we¹re told there may be benefits for Maori, the downsides in terms of compromises to our sovereignty, threats to the status of the Treaty, the impact on work standards and wage rates, and China's lack of respect for human rights, indigenous rights, and the environment, mean the downsides of any Free Trade Agreement with China are simply unacceptable at this time,² said Mr Harawira.

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