TPP Bill: Third Reading Speech

  • Todd McClay


TPP Bill: Third Reading Speech


I move, that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Bill be now read a third time.

Mr Speaker, New Zealand has shown leadership on the liberalisation of trade for the past thirty years.  We do so because our livelihoods as an exporter of goods and services depend on it.  Trade is essential to New Zealand’s way of life, our standard of living, and our potential to become a more prosperous country.

Other countries do not owe New Zealand a living.  Our successes in the international marketplace: whether it is selling butter, financial and digital services, education services or  high end manufactured goods, are not always recognised.  

However, Mr Speaker, we have only achieved this because New Zealand governments have made the objective of liberalising international trade, providing access for innovative New Zealand companies to international markets and overseas customers, at the very heart of our foreign and trade policy.

Now, more than ever before, New Zealand needs to continue to work towards bringing down barriers to international trade. 

New Zealand needs to trade.  We won’t become more prosperous selling to ourselves.  And the rest of the world needs to hold New Zealand up as an example of the benefits of an open, liberal approach.

Improving access to international markets is part of the Government’s wider plan to create a stronger economy, with more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders.  We can be proud of the achievements of successive governments to date to achieve this through trade.

New Zealand’s future lies in being an open, confident country on the world stage.  We need others to be open and confident too.

The OECD suggests that a 10 percentage point increase in trade openness, lifts GDP per capita by 4 per cent. This is important to underline.  It must be a doctrine  that is widely adopted for global growth and economic welfare.

New Zealand knows this lesson well – trade is driving our economy. It is no coincidence that New Zealand has the fourth fastest economic growth in the OECD.

For these reasons New Zealand has been at the forefront of trade liberalisation, and successive New Zealand governments have pursued free trade agreements where we can.

As I travel the world, people continue to remind me that New Zealand’s first FTA – our ground-breaking Closer Economic Relations with Australia, to establish the single economic market – remains an inspiration to many.

New Zealand was China’s first FTA with a developed country. The new opportunities for our businesses and innovators has been phenomenal, lifting sectors and regions across New Zealand.

Before the China New Zealand FTA, New Zealand goods exports to China were estimated to grow to reach about NZ$5.6 billion in 2015. In 2015 New Zealand exports to China were NZ$3 billion larger than estimated - NZ$8.6 billion.

We now trade with China in five hours what we did in one year in 1972.  This is a result of a high quality free trade agreement.  No other reason!

Our bilateral FTA with Singapore, which expanded into the P4 agreement to include Chile and Brunei, and formed the basis for TPP negotiations. We have a number of FTAs with ASEAN members, which sit alongside our FTA with ASEAN as a whole. In turn, this is being developed into the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would include over half the world’s population.

The job is not complete – New Zealand’s active FTA agenda continues to lock in opportunities for our exporters wherever they may find them.

We have also seen a deepening of issues we need to address to ensure our exporters get decent treatment in markets. As tariffs come down, non-tariff barriers often emerge as presenting unfair obstacles to New Zealand exporters competing on a level playing field.

The government tackles these NTBs in a number of areas, through FTAs, the WTO, and on a case-by-case basis.

The passage of this Bill today will be a signal of the commitment that New Zealand has for the continued liberalisation of international trade.  At times when there is uncertainty in the rest of the world, New Zealand’s consistent and trusted voice of negotiating trade outcomes that are good for our economy and good for the world’s economy, needs to be heard.  

Mr Speaker, our role is as a champion for trade liberalisation.  In this role today this Parliament must show leadership.

Our vision for a mechanism to enhance trade between four countries grew into the largest trade agreement to date and which places us in the middle of a region encompassing nearly 40 percent of global GDP.  We can be very proud of that, but we must continue to push for new trading opportunities and to continue to push for trade liberalisation wherever we can. 

Mr Speaker, other countries want to trade with us.  They regard New Zealanders internationally as easy to deal with.  We are upfront with our objectives.  We produce high quality products and services.  We are governed by the rule of law and respect our obligations.  In turn, New Zealand companies are respected by their customers.  But that reputation means little when we are trying to access markets where we are not permitted to sell our goods and services.  It is only through continuing to improve market access, and boldly confronting barriers to trade, that our exporters can continue to thrive.

We must continue to be outward looking and show leadership.

Mr Speaker, I will touch briefly on global events overnight.  I congratulate President-elect Trump. It is important that we give the new President a chance put his team in place and consider his trade agenda.  This will obviously take some time. We will be able to work with America on trade.

The passage of this Bill would put New Zealand, as the TPP Depositary and first to have passed implementing legislation, in a stronger position.

Now, more than ever, we need to be championing the cause of openness and inclusiveness. This remains the only way to secure prosperity for our economy, and generations to come.