Marlborough Express - Understanding the TPP and its opportunities

Columns
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Last Thursday was a significant day for New Zealand with the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Auckland.

Trade ministers from the 12 countries involved in the Free Trade deal attended the signing ceremony at SkyCity Convention Centre.

Now that it's been signed, the TPP is agreed but it will not take effect for New Zealand until it goes through our Parliamentary treaty examination process.

Once that is completed, Parliament passes law to give effect to New Zealand's obligations under TPP, such as the tariff cuts every TPP country will make under the agreement.

Each of the countries involved will go through the same process for the agreement to take full effect.

Over the last few months, the Government has released a large amount of information in relation to the TPP, including the TPP National Interest Analysis (NIA), which comprehensively analyses what it all means for New Zealand, across the entire agreement.

The NIA concludes that from the outset, the TPP would be of significant net benefit to New Zealand, and growing over time: Entering the TPP is in New Zealand's national interest, adding an estimated $2.7 billion to the nation's GDP by 2030.

Releasing the NIA before the deal is signed is rather unusual, and presents a chance for the public to learn more about the TPP.

It includes 10 fact sheets following the conclusion of negotiations; the TPP text was first made public in November; and detailed economic modelling of the significant areas of benefit and potential costs of TPP.

At the signing, as has been the case throughout the process of reaching this point in the TPP, protesters were out throughout the country.

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The majority of gatherings in relation to the TPP have been peaceful events.

I support people's right to protest and I support freedom of speech and association: I absolutely support people's right to have a different view.

But what I do not support is people stopping others from having the right to associate with whom they please and the right of free speech.

New Zealanders have fought and died for these rights. That is a very important human right that is being imposed upon.

If opposing the TPP justifies preventing people from having the freedom of association and freedom of speech, does that not make the protesters worse than the people they are protesting against?

As I have said before, if the negative impact of the TPP on our economy outweighed the benefits, our Government would not be entering this deal.

New Zealand would be locked out of the significant trading preferences TPP presents in important markets like Japan, the United States, Canada and Mexico and other countries in the region would be all too happy to take advantage of this.

The Government will be running roadshows for the public to learn more about the TPP, and to help local businesses prepare for the economic opportunities will bring.