I’m a Business Ambassador of the NZ US Council, funded by business and government to build New Zealand’s relationship with the USA. The biggest item on our radar is supporting the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a major trade treaty between 12 APEC economies representing around 40 percent of global GDP.
Stephen Jacobi is the Executive Director of the Council he gave an update on the TPP to the NZ Institute for International Affairs in Wellington. His full speech is here but the gist of his remarks follow:
The idea of TPP is to make trade and investment easier throughout the region by reducing barriers, eliminating tariffs, lowering costs, increasing speed across supply chains, and harmonizing regulations. Progress has been made in areas such as regulatory coherence, competitiveness, development, temporary entry of business persons, cooperation, and small- and medium-sized enterprises. Negotiations may conclude in 2014, in the meantime it is a work in progress.
The New Zealand Government has adopted a goal of increasing the ratio of exports to GDP by around ten percentage points to 40% of GDP by 2025. Our economic future lies in the extent to which our businesses can connect more easily in the markets of the Asia Pacific region.
We need TPP to contribute to a new wave of economic growth, to expand trade, investment and job creation and to reflect the new way that business is being done. New Zealand has free trade agreements (FTAs) with nations covering 50% of our exports, notably Australia and China, which our economy has benefitted enormously from. If negotiated, TPP will deliver FTAs with the US and Japan, and freer trade with Canada, Mexico and Peru.
There is public concern about the transparency associated with trade negotiations; and a range of issues are under active negotiation – rules around patents, intellectual property, copyright and the supply of medicines; e-commerce, as well as the all-important issue of market access. TPP cannot be achieved without addressing the absurdly high protective walls that have been built around agriculture in Japan, United States and Canada. New Zealand has extremely skilled negotiators (aka Tim Groser and team) dedicated to our national interests.