Marlborough Express - TPP is about staying competitive

Columns
Monday, September 7, 2015

A lot has been said about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and what it means for our country.

As a small, island nation, trade is incredibly important to New Zealand. We need to trade with other countries to ensure we are not left behind: After all, we can't get richer by selling to ourselves.

That means we need to be competitive. We need to keep up with rapidly changing international markets and we need to be able to respond to those changing needs in a more efficient manner to further our own economy.

Over time, the way countries trade with each other has changed. Traditionally, products were made in one country and then sold to another, but this trade model is fast becoming less and less relevant. Now, goods and services are made in "the world", with final products often being the result of inputs from multiple countries. New Zealand needs to be part of this rapidly changing landscape: For the betterment of our own future, we cannot be left behind.

The TPP aims to create a regional free trade agreement involving 12 Asia Pacific countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, the United States, Vietnam, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand.

Improved access to markets in Asia and the Pacific is vital to the growth of our economy. To put it into numbers: the 12 participating economies account for NZ$40 trillion in GDP and over 800 million potential customers for New Zealand.

As these countries continue to grow and get wealthier – particularly those in Asia - their demand for high quality products increases. The TPP trade agreement would provide much better access to these markets to help us take advantage of opportunities like this.

This improved access would deliver massive benefits to our region: It will help us to diversify, create more jobs, lift incomes and build a more productive and competitive economy.

I firmly believe the TPP will be hugely beneficial to our region's export industries, from the large wine and aquaculture industries to our smallest traders, if we are able to secure a deal.

This is about getting the best possible deal for our country, not a deal at any cost.