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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
New Zealand seeks Gulf trade deal
Dubai creek
Exports from the Gulf states to New Zealand have risen 10% annually
New Zealand has embarked on free trade negotiations with Gulf states, in a bid to boost its export business.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are attending talks set to run over several days, in the capital Wellington.

According to New Zealand's trade minister Phil Goff, the region is one of its "fastest growing markets", with exports up 10% annually.

New Zealand hopes the talks will help break down trade barriers.

The Gulf states, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are significant buyers of New Zealand's agricultural exports.

Exports to the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council reached 800m New Zealand dollars ($644m; 314m), and they have risen at a faster rate than overall exports, said New Zealand.

The country aims to increase market access to others sectors including trade and services, said Mr Goff.

New Zealand has been aggressively pursuing trade deals in the Pacific in recent years to replace exports markets it has lost in Europe.

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