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Labour would renegotiate Korea trade deal

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/09/2017

© Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images A Labour government would renegotiate New Zealand's trade deal with South Korea to permit a ban of foreign home buyers, party leader Jacinda Ardern says.

She announced on Sunday that if elected to government, Labour would bring a ban on non-residents buying existing houses before Christmas.

The policy prompted criticism from the National Party, which said it would breach trade deals with other countries, including South Korea, New Zealand's sixth-largest export destination.

"These FTAs have nondiscrimination provisions that ensure New Zealanders are treated fairly overseas, and in return that our trade partners are treated fairly in New Zealand," National's trade spokesman Todd McClay said.

He said renegotiation would likely result in some loss of trade.

Ms Ardern on Tuesday admitted the ban would mean a return to the negotiating table, but tried to play down the significance of such a move.

"Renegotiation of a free-trade agreement is not unusual. Us going to our counterparts on this particular point would not be an unusual request. Particularly given Korea has the same carve out for themselves," she told Radio NZ.

"So they can restrict New Zealanders... the New Zealand government did not seek the same carve-out for New Zealand ... the fact they didn't was wrong."

But she said she was confident it would not have a flow-on effect on the China FTA if resolved with South Korea first.

Labour also says it will not accept the TPP11 trade deal unless there's a carve-out for a foreign buyer ban, despite the current government hoping to sign the agreement before the end of the year without major renegotiation, following withdrawal by the United States.

Under the party's policy, non-residents would have to build new homes to own property.

It would not ban Australian buyers, Ms Ardern said.

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