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    Ninety million dollar injection to chase free trade deals with help from new posts in Sri Lanka, Ireland

    Bill_English_3by2A big investment worth nearly $100 million is going into boosting New Zealand exports and free trade deals.

    The Government is also investing in a sales pitch to win over those who are against deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership.

    An anti-free trade backlash saw US President Donald Trump can the TPP, saying his move was a “great thing for the American worker”.

    But the Bill English Government wants more deals to sell more New Zealand goods overseas, and as part of a $90 million package is promising to chase more deals.

    It wants 90 per cent of exports covered by free trade deals by 2030 and to help do that it will open two new diplomatic postings in Sri Lanka and Ireland.

    And to get the public on side, a new advisory group will be made up of iwi, unions, NGOs and industry.

    “I am often bemused by opposition to free trade. And sometimes that may be because governments, business, haven’t done a great job of explaining the benefits,” Mr English said.

    “Things like cars, appliances, cellphones have become significantly more affordable. So we would be poorer.”

    Green Party trade spokesman Barry Coates says the Government is taking the wrong approach by trying to secure lots of individual deals.

    “If you have a plethora of these bilateral deals – a spaghetti bowl of these hundreds of different deals – it’s a nightmare for exporters to have to deal with all these competing standards,” he said.

    But trade expert Stephen Jacobi says it’s going to get even harder for New Zealand to find new markets.

    “New Zealand cannot afford not to respond positively to anybody who expresses interest in wanting to deal with this,” said Mr Jacobi, who’s executive director of the New Zealand International Business Forum.

    Mr English says the stakes are high.

    “The biggest threat to our economic success at the moment is disruption of international trade,” he said.

    It’s a message he’ll be pushing during a visit from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang next week.

    Courtesy – TVNZ

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