Speech at the Auckland Trade and Economic Policy School

Trade and Export Growth

Thank you for the opportunity to speak at today’s hui.

Firstly I’d like to recognise the weather events that have devastated our communities over the past few weeks, including here in Auckland. It will take time and coordinated effort to recover from the effects of the flooding event and Cyclone Gabrielle, but I know we will come back stronger.

These are important opportunities to discuss business and trade and I want to acknowledge the University of Auckland’s Public Policy Institute in putting on this event.

I recall in December 2021 presenting virtually to this hui when we were concluding our hosting of APEC 21, and finalising negotiations on free trade agreements with the UK and EU.

It is fantastic to now be here today talking face to face, having now finalised negotiations on both these agreements, and looking at ensuring they can be implemented to benefit all New Zealanders.

Today I would like to talk about our Trade for All Agenda, our regional free trade agreements and what we are doing to support Indigenous trade.

Trade for All Agenda

As Minister O’Connor has mentioned, the Government’s Trade for All Agenda, set up in 2018, is our guiding approach to deliver trade benefits to all New Zealanders.

Trade is a critical part of Aotearoa’s economy. We know trade improves our prosperity and we want to ensure our trade agreements help all New Zealanders benefit from this.

The Crown’s Trade for All approach and partnership with Māori, recognises that Māori offer unique knowledge and principles that helps differentiate Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Māori economy plays a critical role in and for Aotearoa New Zealand with a value of approximately $70 billion. This is a growth of around 65% from five years ago.

Māori own a significant proportion of assets in the primary sectors: 50% of the fishing quota, 40% of forestry, 30% in lamb production, 30% in sheep and beef production.

Around one in three Māori workers derive their livelihoods from producing goods and services for export and these workers earn more on average than Māori employed in non-exporting firms.

As a government we are optimising international trade opportunities for Māori exporters and playing a leadership role in expanding Indigenous participation through collaboration agreements in global trade.

In 2020, then Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Minister Mahuta, established a work programme to support Māori Trade opportunities: Aotearoa ki te Ao.

The strategy was put in place to support Māori economic growth through trade, and to position Māori to lead international efforts to expand Indigenous participation in global trade.

Aotearoa ki to Ao is based around four strategic Pou:

  • Growing Māori Exporter Opportunity and Success;
  • Protecting and supporting Mātauranga Māori/Traditional Knowledge Values;
  • Strengthening International Indigenous Connections;
  • Promoting Indigenous Trade Missions and Exchange Opportunities.

There have been significant developments since Aotearoa ki te Ao was launched, including several new and updated trade agreements, as well as major external shocks such as Covid-19.

To take this into account, the strategy was refreshed in 2022 to reflect these new realities. While the strategic pou remain the same, our operating context hasn’t.

Here are some examples of the impact Trade for All has had.

The UK Free Trade Agreement marks the first FTA begun and concluded under our Trade for All policy. 

Responding to Trade for All objectives, and in particular Māori interests, was one of the overarching principles throughout the negotiations.

The Agreement includes the most advanced set of provisions to recognise and benefit Māori trade interests, including a Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation Chapter, the inclusion of Māori concepts in the FTA’s Environment Chapter, and provisions for Māori SMEs and wahine Māori.

Additionally, our recently completed EU FTA also includes a Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation chapter, providing an important new platform with the EU to strengthen cooperation in areas of interest to Māori, and to enable Māori to benefit from the Agreement.

I would also like to draw your attention to some other important agreements and negotiations that are tangible manifestations of Trade for All principles:

  • The Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG), and the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement (GTAGA) - two international arrangements where members work together to help make trade policies more inclusive.
  • The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA), which I will talk about later.
  • And the Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement.

It is no surprise that we highly value our relationship with Australia, and as part of the Closer Economic Relations 40th celebrations this year, we have an opportunity to promote and foster Indigenous business and cultural cooperation with Australia.

Māori business leaders will be able to share their experiences of our strong and prosperous Māori economy with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.

I had the privilege in representing Aotearoa New Zealand in my capacity as the Under Secretary for Māori Trade and Export Growth at the Aboriginal and First Nations Business Forum in Melbourne last August.

I was really impressed with the various programmes supporting Aboriginal and First Nations entrepreneurs, as well as the discussions around constitutional reform.

Acknowledging that Australia has a big year ahead with The Voice referendum, we will continue to cooperate with Australia on their Indigenous cooperation/reconciliation journey with processes that are beneficial for all.

We also continue developing our data and economic analysis in support of Trade for All. MFAT has published a working paper on the benefits and costs of trade and how these are distributed across society.

The paper—entitled ‘All for Trade and Trade for All’ provides a much clearer picture of the intersection between international trade and inclusive outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In particular, the paper highlights that:

  • Exporting firms tend to be more productive than non-exporting firms.
  • Goods exporting firms had on average three times higher sales and four times higher levels of business capital.
  • There was a higher representation of Māori in senior leadership roles in exporting firms than in non-exporting firms, largely due to their strong presence in the export-focussed agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.

The Paper can be viewed on MFAT’s website and I encourage you to take a look.


APEC 2021 was a tough but ultimately successful hosting year due to the COVID pandemic and having to host virtually. We were able to use our year in the chair to make a unique contribution to APEC’s forward work programme, particularly for Māori and Indigenous people in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

A lasting outcome of APEC 21 was the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA) that came into effect last year.

IPETCA is a new first of its kind plurilateral arrangement that captures and represents the Indigenous voice, values, and aspirations. Including those of our Australian neighbours, as well as Canadian and Chinese Taipei Indigenous groups.

This instrument is unique because, alongside government officials, the text and negotiations were developed in partnership with Indigenous peoples – encapsulating the phrase ‘by Indigenous, with Indigenous, for Indigenous’.

As Chair, we are leading the work to establish the Partnership Council, the key feature of which is equal partnership between government and Indigenous representatives.

Importantly, it will put in place a joint decision-making mechanism that ensures that Indigenous Peoples, including Māori, are front and centre in overseeing its implementation.

FTA Arrangements

I have previously mentioned our new FTAs with the UK and EU. However last November we announced the conclusion of negotiations to upgrade to our FTA with the Association of South East Asian Nations and Australia - AANZFTA.

With over $7 billion of exports to ASEAN last year, it is now our third largest trading partner. We now trade more with the bloc in a week than we did in a year in the early 1970s.

The Upgrade was an important opportunity to ensure AANZFTA reflects Aotearoa New Zealand’s commitment to a trade policy that is progressive, inclusive, and sustainable.

We have championed the inclusion of a chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development, a first for any ASEAN FTA. Through this chapter parties have agreed to cooperate on issues including the environment, labour standards, and women’s economic empowerment.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) came into force last year bringing together 15 economies that combined equate to almost a third of the world’s population and take over half of our exports.

It is estimated RCEP will add $186 billion to the world economy, and increase New Zealand’s GDP by around $2 billion once fully implemented.

We are also very conscious of our Pacific neighbours and the PACER Plus arrangement is our first fully reciprocal trade deal with our Pacific whanau.

Entering into force in December 2020, it now also incorporates an arrangement on Labour Mobility, and important source of income to the Pacific.


In conclusion, as a Government we are doing more to make sure our trade agreements open up market opportunities, streamline processes and reduce costs, while ensuring that Indigenous Peoples can participate effectively in key trade policy discussions and negotiations, more than ever before.

This includes giving effect to our commitments under Te Tiriti, and through the Government’s Trade for All Agenda, to ensure that Māori actively participate in issues that affect them.

It has allowed an open conversation around the future direction of Aotearoa’s trade policy. And significantly bought Māori into a partnership that is developing, growing and soon to be flourishing.

Furthermore our trade arrangements on RCEP, AANZFTA and PACER Plus continue to put us in a position to advance our trade policies and ensure our businesses can best benefit.

Today the Auckland Trade and Economic Policy School brings you together representing a wide range of backgrounds, ideas and resources. Each of you can effect positive change in our trade kaupapa, and I encourage you to use this conference today to do so.