NZ-China FTA - Full of human rights promises but no substance

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand | Friday, 6 June 2008

NZ-China FTA - Full of human rights promises but no substance

Amnesty International has today made a second submission on the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Bill.

This submission, requested following Amnesty’s oral submissions before the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Select Committee on May 15, highlights its ongoing concerns about the lack of practical applications to ensure labour standards are addressed and improved in China. And this within an agreement that significantly weakens New Zealand’s labour rights obligations. [1]

"Whilst much is made of the economic gains for both countries this agreement fails to adequately incorporate and endorse binding international labour rights," says Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand spokesperson Margaret Taylor.

"We want to know, for instance, how the government will deliver on its international and domestic obligations to ensure goods produced by child and prison labour will not enter this country," says Taylor.

It is for these reasons, Amnesty International has recommended the Government adopt a similar process to that endorsed within the Harkin-Engel Protocol [2] to eliminate child and prison labour, and provide a framework for engagement, accountability and review.

"New Zealand ministers have regularly commented that this FTA will allow for human rights engagement with and improvements in China. Unless a substantive action plan is adopted, this FTA will simply be window-dressing, failing to address substantive human rights concerns at all," says Margaret.

Amnesty International remains deeply concerned at the lack of transparency and consultation in the negotiation and post-signing of the FTA. This lack must be addressed in all future trade agreements, including those recently mooted with Japan and India, by allowing transparency and full consultation with all stakeholders, including human rights groups.

For more information see our NZ-China FTA website: www.notmadeinchina.org.nz

Footnotes:

[1For a comparison chart of New Zealand’s preferential trade agreements see www.notmadeinchina.org.nz.

[2The Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed in 2001 by chocolate and cocoa industry representatives to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products wherever cocoa is grown. For more information see www.notmadeinchina.org.nz.

source: Scoop