Speech at the 24th Nikkei Forum, Tokyo

  • Hon David Parker
Trade and Export Growth

In the words of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand,

E nga mana

E nga reo

E nga rangatira ma

Tena Koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

To the many powers

To the many voices

To the many leaders here today

Greetings to you all.

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very pleased to join you today at the 24th Nikkei Forum, and to follow such illustrious speakers, to contribute a New Zealand perspective to this Forum.  I would like to thank the organisers of the Nikkei Forum for their invitation.

What happens in Asia is of vital interest and concern to New Zealand.

So much of what we deal with in government today is regional if not global in nature. To achieve prosperity and stability, we must act together.

The Government I represent came into office in New Zealand just nine months ago, led by our young, clever and progressive Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is due to give birth to her first child any day.

We are an outward looking country.

Like previous New Zealand governments we recognise the importance of this region.  New Zealand has long-standing ties with many Asian countries. Today, 12% of the people of New Zealand are Asian born or have Asian ancestry and a similar number have links to Pacific nations, making us both a diverse as well as an outward-looking people.

That underscores the partnership we feel, and strive to improve, with the nations of the Asian-Pacific or Indo-Asian as you now call it.

Security Challenges

Just as our heritage is bound up with Asia, so too is our future.

Firstly, we share many of the same security challenges and opportunities.  There is no doubt that the eyes of the world are on this region.  What happens on the Korean Peninsula, in the South China Sea, in areas threatened by terrorism and instability, matters to New Zealand.

The risks to global peace and security are growing and the rules-based system is under pressure.  New Zealand has always been willing to contribute to UN sanctioned collective action to restore and maintain peace.  We are also committed to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

We stand ready to support further efforts towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula following this week’s critical summit meeting.

CPTPP and general trade policy

New Zealand also shares with Asia many of the same economic challenges and opportunities.

As a small trading nation that relies on access to markets and foreign capital, New Zealand has worked for many years with our neighbours in Asia to promote trade and economic connectivity and openness.

This year I joined Minister Motegi, Minister Guajardo and eight other trade and economic ministers to sign CPTPP.  That was the culmination of many years of work to draw together in a trade agreement countries from both sides of the Pacific.  I thank Japan in particular for the leadership shown to ensure we succeeded in bringing the agreement to its conclusion at a time when leadership in trade was critically important.  Very soon, after it enters into force, CPTPP will be open for others to join – this is an important offering to others in the global system who seek to strengthen their connections with each other in turbulent times.

In addition to CPTPP New Zealand is working with ASEAN, Japan and other partners to conclude RCEP, another important building block towards open markets.  Beyond that we are actively negotiating the Pacific Alliance and have just set in train talks with the EU on a free trade agreement.

These agreements work best under the umbrella of an effective functioning of the global trading system, in particular the World Trade Organisation.  These days the WTO and our system of open trade are under threat and we must work together to support and strengthen them.

In addition to defending the WTO rules-based system, we will continue building regional architecture such as CPTPP and RCEP. We must also sustain and support global and regional public goods such as the OECD, APEC, ASEAN and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  And if not all countries are willing to contribute, we should proceed by way of what I call “open plurilateralism” which includes supporting open accession to agreements like CPTPP.

For our trading and economic systems to function, we need the support of our communities.  People need to feel that trading arrangements and economic growth benefit them. They want the taxation systems to push against multinational tax avoidance. They rightly expect government actions to benefit them. They don’t want to be left behind. Our voters don’t want the rewards from trade and growth to be captured by a small wealthy elite but rather want the rewards shared across society.

That is why the New Zealand Government recently launched our Trade for All agenda, asking New Zealanders for their views on how trade policy can contribute to sustainable, progressive and inclusive economic development for the benefit of all. We believe building this broad public support is a crucial way to stem the rising tide of protectionism and the looming risk of trade wars that are all too evident in the world now.

The challenges that are faced in New Zealand are also faced in Japan and across the region.  To help address these challenges New Zealand agreed in March with Chile and Canada to work in the context of trade policy to boost sustainable development by addressing climate change, gender equality, indigenous rights and minimum work standards.  We will find solutions if we act together, rather than in isolation.

New Zealand and Japan

CPTPP will reinforce the already strong trade and economic relationship that New Zealand enjoys with Japan.  New Zealand has long been a reliable supplier of safe, high quality food and beverages to Japan, a source of timber, wood chip and building materials, and other products.

I hold Ministerial portfolios for the Environment, Trade and Export Growth, Economic Development and Associate Finance.  My aim is to bring these strands together and integrate trade and economic growth with environmental sustainability and shared prosperity.

What does this mean for New Zealand’s partnership with Japan?  It means building on the strong economic relationships built up over decades and on the new opportunities created by CPTPP.
It will also means exploring new ways in which Japan and New Zealand can work together to ensure prosperity and stability across the region.

New Zealand has long been a partner with Japan in developing environmentally sustainable, healthy food, both for our own markets and for other countries.  New Zealand is now committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.  Agriculture and forestry will be key parts of our strategy to meet that goal.  We want to collaborate with Japan and other partners to achieve this together - for ourselves, for the planet and for future generations.

New Zealand has abundant renewable energy resources, particularly wind, hydro and geothermal.  We are embarking with Japanese interests on a pilot project to convert geothermal energy into hydrogen and investigate supply chains within New Zealand and aborad to Japan and other markets interested in this with this new transportable form of green energy.  This week I will be taking a closer look at the technologies and infrastructure Japan is developing for a hydrogen society.

We are developing other areas of collaboration.

For example, New Zealand and Japan are bringing together our film and other creative industries and using rapidly developing digital technologies to make new products and tell our stories in new ways. The Lord of the Rings films were not just a celebration of New Zealand’s stunning landscapes, they were also a testament to our innovative thinkers and expanding digital industries.

Our indigenous Ainu and Māori people are looking at how they can develop new forms of business together while they seek to preserve, strengthen and promote their cultural identity and heritage.

I am keen to explore other areas of collaboration to address new challenges facing our societies.

I am interested in how other countries are utilising technology to help care for aging popukatins and to maintain output in industries losing their workforces.

Some of the challenges posed by technology go in the other direction.  We also need to find ways of ensuring meaningful employment as Artificial Intelligence robotics and sensors disrupt many of our jobs. Other challenges include threats to our infrastructure and digital businesses from cyber attacks.  There are threats to our environment from the over-use of resources. 

We are also challenged by new imbalances in our societies caused by changing demographics and changing distribution of wealth.  Our communities are being challenged by migration to the cities.

Sea level rise is threaning low lying suburbs near the sea. The job of government is never finished.

These are challenges that New Zealand shares with Japan and with other countries in Asia and beyond.  And we share with Japan and Asia the same ambitions to create strong, resilient, sustainable and innovative communities for our people. 

I have no doubt that there is much New Zealand can learn from Japan.  We are interested in how you are planning, developing and upgrading urban environments. We are interested in how you are conserving scarce resources, including water and energy.  And we see in New Zealand an exciting future applying robotics and other advanced technologies to further improve our world-leading agricultural industries.

We have some world-leading capabilities in agriculture and horticulture and robotics, and we are looking to partner with other countries advanced in artificial intelligence to further our mutual advantage.

New Zealand has experience to offer in these areas.  We also have experience with sustaining rural communities as populations decrease and building multicultural and inclusive communities.

I am looking forward to having conversations about some of these issues while I am in Japan.

In 2021 New Zealand is hosting APEC.  When APEC Leaders gather in New Zealand in 2021 what will our world look like?  Will we be feeling more secure or less?  Will we be making progress towards more inclusive and sustainable economic growth?  We want to start now to think about what our vision for our region should be.

New Zealand is willing and prepared to work with Japan and other partners in this region to develop that shared vision and to find shared solutions in that shared future.

Let me finish as I began in the words of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand:

No reira, tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa.  Thank you and my greetings to you all.