Speech to Wakatū Nelson regional hui on trade

First, I want to express my thanks to Te Taumata for this hui and for all the fantastic work you are doing for Māori in the trade space. In the short time that you’ve been operating you’ve already contributed an enormous amount to the conversation, and developed impressive networks.

 I come to my new role in a time of great challenge for exporters.  Against the backdrop of increasing threats to the global trading system and rising protectionism in our key markets, we now also face an uncertain headwind that none of us could have seen coming - COVID-19.

Pressures on the international systems we rely on to achieve our trade policy objectives have been exacerbated by COVID-19’s economic impacts and by measures being taken in response to the pandemic.

 The Government’s priority this year has been to keep the pandemic under control here and to mitigate as far as possible its impact on our people, health system and the economy.

 Recognising the immediate impact on exporters caused by the global spread of the pandemic, the Government moved quickly to develop a strategy for trade recovery.  The strategy, launched in June, provides more support for exporters and redirects the efforts of government agencies on practical steps to ensure New Zealand is still internationally ‘connected’ and bolster our resilience to future shocks.

 NZTE has significantly increased its support and services to exporters to help position New Zealand companies to recover their markets quickly and seek new opportunities.

 Trade will be a key driver of our economic recovery, and the success of Māori export businesses are an important part of that.  I have been impressed by the way Māori businesses have been adapting to meet the changing demands of the post-COVID marketplace. The opportunities in the food and beverage sector are particularly promising, and companies are responding quickly to changes in key markets and reconfiguring their processing and selling practices and options.

 These sorts of decisions are ultimately commercial ones for all of you to make. The focus of our Government is on making sure there are as many options as possible available, and getting behind those export decisions on the ground.

 Despite the current challenges, our trade agenda has continued without pause.  MFAT has moved negotiations online and rounds have continued throughout the year.

 The recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will help us build back better and accelerate our economic recovery, including the Maori economy. RCEP is estimated to add $186 billion to the world economy and increase New Zealand’s GDP by around $2 billion.

 RCEP will consolidate a number of existing free trade agreements New Zealand has with the region into a single rulebook, streamlining documentation requirements and reducing red tape for Māori exporters.

 RCEP will also improve market access into Indonesia for products of relevance to Māori export businesses, including through tariff elimination on sheep meat, beef, fish, liquid milk, honey and avocados.

We launched FTA negotiations with the UK this year and have already held two rounds of negotiation. The UK is New Zealand’s sixth-largest trading partner, with annual trade of almost NZ$6 billion. Modelling by the UK indicates that the agreement could – in time – lead to an increase in New Zealand’s GDP of up to $970 million, and boost our exports to the UK by 40 per cent.

 Negotiations with the EU, New Zealand’s third-largest export market, are also continuing, with another round under way this week. We also hope to sign an upgrade to New Zealand’s FTA with China at a date to be agreed soon.

 If all New Zealand’s current FTA negotiations are successfully concluded and enter into force they will cover around 76 per cent of our exports of goods and services.

 Many of those gains will accrue to Māori, and it will be important that Māori access the preferences created by those agreements to grow our export sectors and diversify our markets.

 In my new role, I have been asked by the Minister for Trade and Export Growth to work with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Māori Development to ensure the Government's trade policy and trade promotion work are helping Māori exporters to succeed on the world stage.

 This mahi is more important now than ever, both for the future of our people, and for the well-being of New Zealand.  I will be continuing the direction set by my colleagues before me who launched the Trade For All agenda to ensure all New Zealanders benefit from our trade success. 

 Trade for All

Trade for All, at its heart, was an opportunity to update New Zealand’s trade policy to enhance the benefits of trade for all New Zealanders.  As some of you know, and indeed were directly involved with, an independent Trade for All Advisory Board was established in 2018 and reported to Ministers in 2019.  The board’s recommendations cover a wide range of trade-related kaupapa and speak directly to Māori interests in a number of areas.

 I hear a lot about how trade can benefit Māori, but I’m heartened to hear, because it speaks to the value of Māori exports, is how Māori trade can benefit New Zealand.

 New Zealand has a reputation for excellence in food production, high-quality education, natural beauty and a country that deeply cares about issues like climate change and the well-being of our people.

 This is all inextricably tied to Te Ao Māori.  It is the unique part of our country’s offering to the world and it has huge economic value for Māori and the rest of New Zealand.

 The Trade for All Board highlighted the potential for New Zealand to benefit from encouraging and developing greater Māori leadership of our country’s international engagement, economically, culturally and diplomatically.  This opportunity has become more apparent as the pattern of New Zealand’s trade has broadened from its traditional Western partners to a more diverse range of countries.

 While the Trade For All Board presented its report prior to the COVID19 crisis, it had the forethought to present trade policy and health as interconnected issues.  In particular, its recommendation 5 states that “…a strong, rights-based approach to health should always be a pillar of New Zealand trade negotiating mandates…”.

 Cabinet’s decision in March to implement the TFA board’s recommendations cemented this, and it is a theme that runs through the implementation of other recommendations and the Trade Recovery Strategy.

 Trade for All is fundamental to ensure an economy that is growing and working for all New Zealanders. Alongside New Zealand’s COVID-19 Trade Recovery Strategy, full implementation of Trade for All contributes to an economy that produces and exports higher value goods, one that protects the environment, supports our regions to grow, and one that makes sure all New Zealanders share in the rewards of economic growth through trade.

 As Under-Secretary for Trade and Economic Growth, I will be contributing to the Trade for All agenda by supporting Māori success through trade.

 Aotearoa ki te Ao

 Last year, former Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth Nanaia Mahuta established a programme of work designed to support Māori Trade Opportunities: Aotearoa ki te Ao.  Its four strategic pillars, or pou, were designed to ensure trade policy helps Māori succeed internationally.

 The Minister has asked me to continue this work to help to position Māori to lead international efforts to expand the participation of indigenous people in global trade, including through the expansion of inclusive trade policies, rules and co-operation with our trade partners.

 The Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement signed in February, promotes indigenous peoples’ agency, culture, economy and well-being and provides a structure for trans-Tasman engagement between senior officials, indigenous leaders and Ministers.

 It is intended that the arrangement act as a platform for wider engagement, including with Canada. New Zealand is also commencing separate discussions with Canada and Chile on efforts to promote indigenous to indigenous trade through the Inclusive Trade Action Group.

In my new role, you can expect me to continue to champion these international indigenous partnerships.

These are uncertain times. The global health and economic consequences of COVID-19 will be with us for some time. But New Zealand is well-placed to weather the storm and we expect to emerge from it stronger. 

New Zealand’s success so far in protecting lives and livelihoods has put us in a better position than many other countries.

s a trading nation we rely on international customers. This Government is committed to working with Māori to further improve their part in New Zealand’s great reputation as a place to trade with and invest in. I am honoured to play a role in that mission.

 I look forward to supporting your work to lift opportunities for Māori and to continue to grow the voice of tangata whenua in the development of Aotearoa New Zealand’s trade agenda.

 Thank you.