Last Thursday was a significant day for New Zealand, with the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in Auckland. The TPP is New Zealand’s biggest free trade agreement – the 12 countries involved represent 36 per cent of the global economy. It will give our exporters much better access to more than 800 million customers in Asia and the Pacific. It will create significant new trade and investment opportunities for New Zealand and make it easier for Kiwi companies to do business overseas. That means more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders. The TPP will add an estimated $2.7 billion a year to the New Zealand economy by 2030, but I think that is conservative.
The China Free Trade Agreement, for example, has exceeded all expectations. Trade between our two countries has doubled to $20 billion since the agreement was signed in 2008. Our…. kiwifruit and wine growers are also reaping the benefit of the Korean Free Trade Agreement. Overall, the TPP is overwhelmingly beneficial to New Zealand with the elimination of 93 per cent of tariffs on New Zealand’s exports to the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru – five of our top trading partners. Some TPP opponents have resorted to deliberately misleading New Zealanders about the deal. Medicines will not cost you more and other countries will not be able to dictate New Zealand law. As a small island nation, New Zealand can’t get rich selling things to itself. But it can if we build and develop strong and enduring global relationships.
Successive New Zealand governments have worked hard to achieve this for 25 years. They knew it would help diversify and grow the economy. So it really is unthinkable that any responsible government would now walk away from the TPP. New Zealand’s future lies in being open and connected with the rest of the world. This is about doing what’s right for New Zealanders by supporting an agreement that will bring prosperity, jobs, and higher incomes for your kids and mine. The TPP will be positive for our country and for our future.
The agreement is expected to enter into force within two years, once the countries involved have completed their domestic implementation processes. The TPP builds on the National-led Government’s wider plan to diversify and strengthen our economy, support more jobs, and provide more opportunities for Kiwis to get ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits the TPP will deliver to our exporters, businesses and to our country as whole.