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  1. Action Alert

    New Zealand increases links with Burmese military

    An expected free trade agreement with ASEAN nations will increase New Zealand’s official links with the Burmese military regime.

    The ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) is currently under negotiation with the expectation that a draft will be agreed later this month. An announcement of the agreement is expected at the ASEAN Economic Minister’s meeting in late August.

    Trade between New Zealand and Burma is limited (see figures below), and it is not expected that trade in goods will increase to significant levels as a result of this agreement. However, as the Burmese regime maintains monopolies on the export of most of the country’s products and much of the economy is controlled by the military, any business with Burma is likely to put money directly into the hands of the repressive government.

    The agreement may also see an increase in contract work and service provision. A New Zealand state-owned company, Kordia, has previously done engineering work on cell tower installations for government-controlled Myanmar Post and Telecommunications.

    Another part of the deal is an economic cooperation agreement under which Australia and New Zealand will fund projects to improve ASEAN countries economic performance. This may include technical advice, assistance in economic restructuring and conferences and workshops on topics of interest. Burmese military government officials will have access to this support.

    The main gain for the Burmese regime is the increased participation in regional forums and diplomatic circles. This has the effect of normalising links between the illegal military junta and other governments, further marginalising the elected government and helps break down the isolation of a regime responsible for massive human rights abuses and military atrocities.

    What you can do

    While the agreement is close to completion, full ratification will take some time. Pressure on government may have some effect and letters to newspapers, comments on blogs, etc. will at least throw light on this unethical agreement and help to prevent future commercial contact between New Zealand companies and the Burmese regime.

    Trade union members may wish to raise this issue in union newspapers and call for unions to act against ties with Burma. See below for contact details for ministers, MFAT, newspapers and embassies and links for more information on Burma.

    New Zealand – Burma trade (from MFAT website)

    NZ Exports: NZ$ 5,813,000
    Main Exports: Dairy, sugars, iron and steel
    NZ Imports: NZ$ 1,378,000
    Main Imports: Garments, Furniture, Preserved Fish
    (for year ended Jun 2007)

    Contacts

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

    Luke Leonard, AANZFTA coordinator
    luke.leonard@mfat.govt.nz
    Ph: 04 439 8084

    New Zealand Government

    Hon Phil Goff – Minister of Trade
    pgoff@ministers.govt.nz
    Ph. (04) 470-6553
    Fax (04) 495-8444

    Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban – Associate minister of trade
    wlaban@ministers.govt.nz
    Ph. (04) 470-6582
    Fax. (04) 472-9275

    Hon Shane Jones – Associate Minister of Trade
    sjones@ministers.govt.nz
    Ph. (04) 817-6567
    Fax. (04) 473-4871

    Rt Hon Helen Clark – Prime minister
    pm@ministers.govt.nz
    Ph. (04) 471-9998
    Fax. (04) 473-3579

    Newspapers

    NZ Herald
    PO Box 32
    Auckland
    New Zealand
    E-mail: letters@nzherald.co.nz

    Dominion Post
    P O Box 3740
    Wellington
    New Zealand
    E-mail: letters@dompost.co.nz

    Christchurch Press
    The Christchurch Press
    Cathedral Square
    Private Bag 4722
    Christchurch
    E-mail: editor@press.co.nz

    Otago Daily Times
    PO Box 517,
    Dunedin
    E-mail: editor@alliedpress.co.nz

    Waikato Times
    Private Bag 3086
    Hamilton
    E-mail: editor@waikatotimes.co.nz

    Sunday Star-Times
    PO Box 1327
    Auckland
    Email: feedback@star-times.co.nz

    NZ Listener
    The Editor, Listener
    PO Box 90 783
    Auckland Mail Centre
    letters@listener.co.nz

    Embassies
    The New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok (Thailand) (accredited to Burma)
    M Thai Tower, 14th Floor
    All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road
    Lumpini, Bangkok 10330
    Thailand
    (PO Box 2719, Bangkok 10500)
    Ph: (66 2) 254 2530
    Fax: (66 2) 253 9045
    Email: nzembbkk@loxinfo.co.th
    Embassy of the Union of Myanmar, Canberra (accredited to New Zealand)
    22 Arkana Street, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia
    Ph: (61 2) 6273 3811
    Fax: (61 2) 6273 3181
    Email: mecanberra@bigpond.com

    Links

    The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website page on the agreement
    http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/Trade-Agreements/Asean/index.php

    The Irrawaddy magazine on-line covering Burmese news
    http://www.irrawaddy.org/

    More English-language news on Burma from the Democratic Voice of Burma
    http://english.dvb.no/index.php

    Burma Campaign New Zealand website
    http://www.burmacampaign.org.nz/index.html

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