New Zealand’s opposition leader slams the U.S. for being “foolish”

October 4, 2021 - 18:32

TEHRAN - Judith Collins, leader of the center-right National Party, called the United States “foolish” for withdrawing from the free trade agreement and opening the door for China to increase its presence in the Pacific region.

“If any criticism comes to New Zealand, as it often does about this close relationship with China and trade, my answer to everybody – whether they’re the U.S. or UK – is: ‘So where’s our free trade agreement?’,” she said in an interview with the Guardian.

In 2017, Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) and did not join its replacement, the CPTPP. Last year New Zealand began talks with the UK on a post-Brexit free trade deal, which has not yet been made.

“What they did is that they opened up the gates for China to be even more important in the Pacific and Indo-Pacific region. They opened that up, and they left the door open, and they were ultimately foolish to do so. And that has actually caused the issue.” Collins said, criticizing the U.S.

China is New Zealand’s biggest trading partner by a large margin.

“Stop judging New Zealand by the fact that we are a little country at the bottom of the world who has to trade. That’s how we do it. That’s how we pay for everything we need.” She added.

China is New Zealand’s biggest trading partner by a large margin and accounts for about one-third of total exports. According to the New Zealand China Council, last year, exports to China were $16.7bn. More than New Zealand’s trade with Australia, the US, and Japan – its next three most significant trade partners – combined. That has led to speculation that New Zealand cannot take tough stances on Beijing due to its trade dependency.

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