NZ’s interests advanced at international trade forums

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker has this evening wrapped up a series of meetings in Chile and Paris focused on defending and advancing New Zealand’s interests in open and rules-based trade in the Asia-Pacific and worldwide.

“These are obviously difficult times for world trade. From the global perspective there were mixed results at the two main meetings I attended,” David Parker said.

“This underscored for me the good sense of New Zealand’s multi-pronged approach to trade in these turbulent times.”

At the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) annual Ministers meeting, differences on trade and climate change in particular meant no single consensus statement on those issues was possible.

However, on a more positive note, the earlier meeting in Viña del Mar, Chile, of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), trade ministers did reach consensus on a statement on the multilateral trading system – the first time a consensus statement has been issued by the grouping since 2015.

“That was a significant achievement,” David Parker said.

“At a time when trade tensions are high and the multilateral system is under significant pressure, APEC economies have underscored the importance of transparent and non-discriminatory rules for trade and the critical role of the WTO in sustaining them.

“This is important for New Zealand businesses because it helps underpins a stable and predictable environment for trade, which is key to continuing growth and job creation across the region,” he said.

APEC Ministers called for the acceleration of practical and concrete areas of work in APEC to advance support for the WTO.

In Chile David Parker also met CPTPP ministers and was part of a meeting of the Inclusive Trade Action Group, which includes Chile and Canada. He also joined in the launch – with Chile and Singapore – of negotiations for a Digital Economic Partnership Agreement.

In Paris, as well as attending the OECD ministers meeting David Parker also took part in an informal meeting of WTO Ministers and a meeting of the Ottawa Group on WTO Reform.

“The situation in Paris underscored for me the sense in New Zealand’s multi-pronged approach to trade in these turbulent times,” David Parker said.

“We are working really hard on WTO reform and also to reach agreement on fisheries subsidies by the end of 2019, which is a priority for New Zealand. I was pleased to hear other WTO members sharing that ambition.”

“We need to find common ground with different partners and regions, and form alliances on specific issues,” he said.

In both Chile and Paris he held one-on-one meetings with many of his trade counterparts, which included meetings to advance a free trade agreement with the EU.

Another important focus of his meetings was building support for the Christchurch Call.

“APEC and OECD Ministers’ focus on how to harness the digital transformation for economic and social good gave me an excellent platform to talk about what we can do, individually and together, to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online,” David Parker said.

“It was particularly welcome that in their statement APEC Ministers representing a wide part of the global economy recognised the need to address terrorist content online.

“I am also pleased that OECD countries have agreed to do further work on this subject.

“We asked the other members to work with their online service providers to ensure they adhere to the existing OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which are a particularly useful framework, in my view, to define what responsible business conduct looks like in this area.”

David Parker will hold talks on the NZ-EU trade deal in Paris and Brussels on Friday and arrives back in New Zealand on Sunday.