More business leaders are speaking publicly in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement that is currently being negotiated in Auckland.
Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly has said the TPP has the potential to raise living standards around New Zealand.
Speaking at the TPP Forum he said the trade agreement goes beyond the 20th century approach of simply seeking to reduce tariffs and border restrictions.
“It recognises the fact that industry now relies on complex supply and value chains involving producers in many different locations and countries. New Zealand is deeply involved in many international value chains and the TPP will enable more New Zealand businesses to trade effectively in more countries and that means increased growth and more jobs for New Zealanders.
“The particular value of the TPP is that it involves many of the fastest growing economies on earth. Economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region is surging and TPP will help unlock that growth for New Zealand’s benefit.
“It’s appropriate that New Zealand’s negotiators are focused on protecting and advancing our interests including public health, intellectual property, the environment and the Treaty of Waitangi and success in these areas will mean a high-quality trade deal that is sustainable in the long-term.”
Agreement vital to New Zealand economic success
Also speaking in Auckland at the Stakeholders Forum was Suze Reynolds, NZUS Council associate director who argued that the agreement is vital to New Zealand economic success.
“New Zealand has always been a nation of traders, but we need a level playing field to compete in competitive world markets,” she said. “As a country, we desperately need to grow the economy and grow employment. More trade means more jobs.”
International trade accounts for around two thirds of new Zealand’s total economic activity. In 2011, New Zealand’s merchandise exports totalled $48 billion, while service exports totalled $13 billion.
“These are big numbers, but we are not paying our way. We still spend more than we earn,” said Reynolds. “We can’t prosper by selling to ourselves, we can’t eat all we produce and we can’t produce all that we need. Free trade gives us more choice. It helps to diversify and deepen our economy. It exposes our businesses to innovation and makes them more efficient, it attunes them to international markets and exposes them to high value customers.
Research undertaken by the East-West Center, in Honolulu, states that the TPP could add around $2.1 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2025.