Free trade importance to NZ cannot be overstated, PM English says; Launches 2030 trade agenda including group to ‘better inform public on trade issues’

Free trade importance to NZ cannot be overstated, PM English says; Launches 2030 trade agenda including group to ‘better inform public on trade issues’

The importance of free trade to New Zealand cannot be overstated, Prime Minister Bill English said Friday while launching a government trade agenda out to 2030.

Speaking to the International Business Forum and Auckland Chamber of Commerce, English said he was often bemused by opposition to free trade, adding this made him think successive governments had done a poor job explaining the benefits.

Part of the 2030 agenda announced Friday includes establishing a Ministerial Advisory Group to “ensure the public is better informed on trade issues.”

English promised that a National-led government would continue to be outward-looking when it came to trade issues. “While many countries continue to push for open borders and greater integration, the voices of protectionism have grown both internationally and even within our own Parliament,” English said.

“You may have noticed our political opponents have become increasingly fearful of the world and more inward looking.”

“Our lives would be poorer without free trade. I acknowledge we have seen in the past that free trade can lead to significant change for some industries,” English said.

“That change can be painful for some people working in those sectors. But New Zealanders, with support from the Government, have shown an impressive ability to adapt and to thrive.”

English noted companies like Air New Zealand, Xero, Orion Health, Zespri, Fonterra and Icebreaker, saying their successes were in part down to trading opportunities.

Free trade agreements had allowed exporters to diversify into new products and markets, making the economy more resilient to economic shocks, he said.

“Although it remains a hugely important part of the economy, dairy no longer dominates our exports as it once did. We’re seeing solid growth in tourism, wine, ICT, education and many other sectors,” English said.

“Between 2014 and 2016, global dairy prices fell markedly, and as a result annual dairy exports fell by $3.3 billion. But because of our diversified export portfolio, non-dairy exports grew by $5.9 billion over the same period.”

New Zealand’s exports were now worth $70 billion and continue to grow, supporting hundreds of thousands of Kiwi jobs and households.

“The dairy sector alone employs over 40,000 people, and supports the jobs of many more. The tourism sector employs around 190,000. And exporting firms employ an average of 20 people compared with just three staff in non-exporting businesses,” English said.

“Trade is part of the reason why New Zealand is growing more strongly than most developed countries. It’s part of the reason why the average wage is up 26 per cent since National was elected in 2008.

“It’s part of the reason why over 370,000 jobs have been created since the height of the Global Financial Crisis. And it’s a lot of the reason why the cost of living remains historically low, with things like cars, appliances and cell phones becoming more affordable.”

The announced 2030 trade agenda includes:

  • The opening of a new embassy in Dublin, Ireland and a new High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • $35.3 million to the Ministry of Primary Industries to focus on boosting the value of our primary sector exports, including through targeting non-tariff barriers.
  • $20.3 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to enhance the Ministry’s trade work, with a focus on improving market access, maximising benefits from existing FTAs and negotiating new ones, helping business internationalise and tackling non-tariff barriers.
  • $6.7 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to strengthen our international networks across the globe and boost the availability of consular services for Kiwis overseas.
  • The establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group to ensure the public is better informed on trade issues.
  • The development of a single point of contact to allow exporters to alert the Government to non-tariff barriers and to get better information and support.

New funding will be $80.3m in operating funding over four years and $11m in capital.

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28 Comments

A tiny amount of funding for what is effectively marketing. So what? These numbers are inconsequential.

What about serious issues? National has nothing of value to offer.

As majority agrees that it is a time for change - Time to change the government as national has nothing to offer and also their policies does not take everyone into consideration but targets Elite few and Non residents - who are rich and also their core vote bank. 9 years is a long period to get arrogent and rigid in their approach, which is true for national.

Hopefully this year voting percentage will be highest as it normally happens when people of the country are fed up and wants change (By people am not talking about elite few who are been benefited by national policy). Must admit that I too have been benefited but will vote for change (though have always voted for national) for future NZ.

"Free Trade" is Orwellian-speak. The working classes need Fair Trade, not Free Trade.

Actually it is recognised economic terminology and not Orwellian at all.

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"Free trade" equates with ever greater financial servitude. It demands massive debt increases to finance expanding cross border goods movements and to police the requisite shipping lanes.

How else to you protect "investment" in these debts without a military operating outside of the local laws?

Is he really just saying "no, we're not going to do anything to make housing more about home ownership for Kiwis, but keep pushing it to be a resource for the world to buy up"? As well as driving down wages for Kiwis by importing more alternative workforces:

>“While many countries continue to push for open borders and greater integration, the voices of protectionism have grown both internationally and even within our own Parliament,” English said.

Unfortunately he equates free trade with fair trade - they are not the same.
And free trade isn't just financial tariffs, they need to spend more time on other barriers to entry.

Jump on the wagon

You will have to copy and paste.

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA — The government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan aims to grow Canada’s agri-food exports to at least $75 billion annually by 2025

http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2017/03/C...{B4C70461-F7F4-400E-8B57-D2F6EB77DAEC}

IMHO I think English is a little too blinded by ideology. While he is correct that the importance of free trade cannot be overstated, what he misses is that trade needs to balanced against protecting jobs and living standards of a country's citizens. Part of his problem is that free trade does not separate out Globalisation, resulting in multinational conglomerates dominating and manipulating markets at the expense of small countries like NZ. Apple is a good example here. Likely hundreds of millions of business done in NZ but not one cent of tax paid here. Haier too, bought F&Ps whiteware division and then moved all it's manufacturing to China. The loss of jobs is not balanced by the now required importation of all whiteware items now having to be imported as none are manufactured in NZ (when the last factory is closed), and those companies, while benefiting from NZs infrastructure make no contribution to maintaining it.

Free trade supporters assess the growth in net exports of timber, meat and dairy to China but fail to account for the reduction in consumer goods manufacturing in New Zealand.
The government should put more money into developing high value exports to the world and not just milk and jerky.

Free trade mockers and scoffers usually fail to mention closed trade / controlled economic regimes in history have the prosperity of places like Poland and the Soviet Union under communism.

The best examples are really Korea and Germany. Because we took two nations of basically equal cultural backgrounds, work ethics and history, and then we split them into to two parts. The first part we enslaved under the evils of western democracy and free trade market forces and the second part was allowed to close its borders and vote themselves wage rises.

Unbelievably East Germany and North Korea didn't end up as nice places to live or with a high material standard of living.

Are we not confusing issues here?

If we are not able to trade freely then it doesn't matter *where* the fridge is made because you can't sell it to anyone after you make it. Or at least only sell under very limited conditions with surcharges, cost of bribes etc, that limit how many you sell.

The fact that China run a mercantilist economy is a separate issue, they should not able allowed to trade freely, should never have been admitted to the WTO. Their model sucks jobs from other countries for as long as their wage rates are cheaper.

"free Trade vital to NZ"

I say What... why ..and with whom..??? Take china for example..
I would describe China as a " Mercantilist economy".
http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Mercantilism.html

If one can accept this as an underlying 'first principle", then one has to question the integrity of any kind of FTA with China.. ( China will play the game on their terms ...as it suits them )
Thats my view..

Bill English talks of "Free Trade" at the cliche "mantra" level, where just saying the words is somehow meaningful .... but is actually meaningless.
Same thing was done with the term " Foreign direct investment"... Politicians and vested interests just parroting those words as if they were somehow magical. ( No distinction is made between foriegn investment simply buying NZ assets and actually creating New enterprise.. )

...just don't mention steel dumping or kiwi fruit fungus.

Yes free does not mean fair.. If the First world really cared maybe it could apply tariffs based on the manufacturers average wage?

Ah, taxation as the moral guardian of good over evil. What an age we live in.

"our political opponents have become increasingly fearful of the world ..."

While the Nats ignore the obvious? Maybe they need to turn down the Mike Hosking talkback ... There lots of ugly clouds out there ...
Mexico - https://srsroccoreport.com/pemex-mexicos-state-oil-company-on-the-verge-...
Venezuela - https://panampost.com/sabrina-martin/2017/03/22/venezuela-scrambles-to-s...
Sth Africa https://sputniknews.com/business/201703211051803499-south-africa-economy...
Sth Korea http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-economy-daewoo-idUKKBN16U06C

I know there are some cynics here but come on. Free trade has grown the world economy far more than the protectionist policies ever did. I think NZ economically is far better off with a free economy. I don't want to go back to the days where the government granted monopolies to prize industries - eg cars - so that one group of NZers were enriched by another.
So to those that want protection which industries should we protect? Which industries do you want to subsidize with your money? If you want to subsidize an industry you can right now give them your money - I prefer my money to spent better.

Free trade is essential just like a new idiot is essential for a Ponzi scheme.
Growth is essential for the financial system .... free trade is essential for growth ... BUT ongoing growth is illogical when resources are finite. You are just creating more debt claims (what some call wealth) on a limited set of resources ... its pretty obvious the resources are starting to deteriorate... but the call goes out to lift consumption to keep the Ponzi afloat.

The times are a changing - the world is maneuvering to put their hands round real resources.
If you want your money "spent better" invest in real resources before it loses all value.

There is nothing about free trade that requires infinite growth and is not a ponzi scheme in any shape or form. It is simply the ability for people to trade their goods and services without being stopped or having their competitor advantaged. I think you might be conflating a lot here that has nothing to do with free trade.
Also, if you look at the some of the most valuable companies most the value comes form intellectual property which as far as I aware isn't finite.

It is simply the ability for people to trade their goods and services without being stopped or having their competitor advantaged

AK79... within the context that nice definition, are there any examples that this actually exists/happens , in regard to trade between countries...??

eg.. NZ companies are constrained by compliance costs, such as Labour laws, environmental costs, health and safety...etc.., in regards to competing with China ( In this case it is the NZ Govt giving an advantage to the Chinese )... ( How bizarre it that..??? allowing imports of products that do not comply with our own standards...?? )
Chinas export driven Monetary policy ( managed exchange rate ) basically has subsidisd Chinese exporters, giving them an advantage.

etc..etc..

just like rugby.... we need a level playing field with all teams playing by the same rules,.... for free trade to truly exist, work and be fair ..???

The way things are at the moment, a few Countries run chronic Balance of payments surpluses and many countries chronic balance of payments deficits.
There is no Monetary mechanism to bring balance..
In this regard , it is a debt Ponzi..... in my view
Chronic balance of payments/current acct deficits is akin to selling bits of the family farm to maintain a certain lifestyle..... Like maxing out visa cards to live a lifestyle..
At some point , it does become problematic...???

So because the world is not perfect we should take our ball and go home?

Take our ball and go home..??
No...Maybe we should focus on trade agreements that attempt to make the playing field level , have rules that are aligned with both teams... and a way of reffing them. ( thats how rugby works )

Does not make sense to me that our Govt imposes compliance standards and costs on NZ exporters and Manufacturers and yet does not apply those same requirements on imported products...

In a way, it is almost a Govt policy against local manufacturers and producers who are not exporters and simply supply local mkts... Is there something wrong with trying to give these people a level playing field to compete on..?? ( within the realms of common sense )

So called "Free' trade agreements , at least the ones we sign too, are not magic bullets.. that somehow make us prosperous... I think Bill English is blowing Hot Air ,... in the same way John Key was when talking about "White Gold"...etc.
Innovation, creative thinking + hard work is what leads towards prosperity, in my view..

Better off putting that funding money towards revamping education... producing the next generation of smart, independent , creative risk taking , entrepreneurial Kids... in the same way our Rugby system produces great All Blacks...etc..

“When all resources – food, wildlife, trees, fuel – are destroyed, man will not be able to eat money.” – Native American Proverb

Election just few months away.

Free trade is good but should also be fair to its citizen and with national, is a big question mark.

I dont think its a Q at all, the answer is no. The real Q is, is any other party an improvement

Next you'll be pointing out that America's desire for "change" landed them with Donald Trump.

It's as if age mellows us.