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Minister of Trade & Export Growth Damien O’Connor to talk IPEF, APEC & CPTPP issues in the US

Business / news
Minister of Trade & Export Growth Damien O’Connor to talk IPEF, APEC & CPTPP issues in the US
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Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor, is holding trade talks in Detroit and a commitment to improved supply chains could emerge from the negotiations. 

O’Connor is holding meetings under several banners, and one of them is the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

This has been pushed by President Joe Biden as an alternative to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which during the presidency of Donald Trump the US decided not to join.   

IPEF is not a trade pact but pushes for better and fairer trade and for improved supply chains.

Supply chains faltered badly during the Covid crisis and have still not been restored to  full efficiency. 

The US is very keen to have them fixed, according to the head of the APEC Business Advisory Council, Stephen Jacobi. 

"There is some momentum in IPEF that will be interesting to watch," Jacobi says. 

"There have been three rounds of negotiations already under IPEF, and one of the pillars of these talks has been the issue of supply chains.

"We understand that the Americans are quite keen to announce substantial conclusions, and it will probably be about how supply chains can be made more resilient."

IPEF is not the only forum for the Detroit meetings. O'Connor will also meet trade ministers from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping. 

As with IPEF, APEC is an economic forum, not a trade pact. But it is considered important to New Zealand because of the presence of economic powerhouses like the US, China and Japan, all of them important trading partners.   

But what will come out of these sessions is hard to gauge, according to Jacobi.  

"This meeting is taking place amid a difficult geopolitical situation between the US and China," he says.  

"What they should be doing is pledging increased co-operation at the WTO, or making more progress towards free trade in the Pacific.  

"But the Americans are very allergic towards trade liberalisation, so seeing if anything in that space can come out of this meeting will be very interesting."

Then there is a third pillar of the Detroit talks:  the CPTPP, an 11 member trade pact involving significant economies, such as Japan, Canada and Australia.   

New Zealand currently holds the chair of the CPTPP and ministers from all member states will gather in Auckland in July. The talks in Detroit are a precursor to that.    

"The CPTPP has already saved Kiwi business $300 million in tariff reductions," O'Connor says. 

The trip to Detroit coincides with Prime Minister Chris Hipkins' announcement that he will go to India to talk trade.   However, an actual deal with New Delhi is still far off due partly to India's reluctance to take large quantities of New Zealand dairy products. 

In other trade developments, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK comes into force next week and the FTA with the EU is being implemented in a series of meetings this year. 

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