Politics should not dictate our Trade Policy and Approach

Todd McClay

New Zealand has a long history of leadership on a positive trade agenda with the world.

Trade helps our businesses to succeed as they compete on a global market.

It helps our consumers gain access to goods and services and it helps foster stronger ties with the world.

National’s Principle

Simply put, through trade, we can make every New Zealander more prosperous.

Successive Governments have endorsed the principle that trade is not about politics but about securing better opportunities for New Zealand and closer ties with our partners.

This principle is why National has perused a strong trade agenda to advance our trade links around the world.

A good example of this was our commitment to advancing trade with India.

Our two countries have a long standing friendship going back to the 1800s and while we sometimes challenge each other on the cricket pitch, we have a lot to offer each other.

Relations with India

Under the previous National Government, former Prime Minister John Key, pushed hard to start work on a Free Trade Agreement between our two countries. We have also been actively engaging in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations which, if successful would see increased trade across the Asia-Pacific and between India and New Zealand.

Increasing our trade relationship with India is important.

Increasing trade

India currently imports about $680 million worth of goods like timber, wool, aluminium and fruit from New Zealand while New Zealand imports about $615 million worth of medicines, machinery and textiles from India.

Over the past five years, our services trade has also increased quickly.

Since 2013, we have seen a 64% increase and we have seen almost double the number of tourists from India come to New Zealand in the last year.

Our relationship with India is positive, but as the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the opportunities for even more trade links are growing. To ensure we seize these opportunities, New Zealand must remain committed to our open approach to trade.

Commitment essential

However, we will only be able to achieve such a goal if we continue to commit ourselves to a positive trade agenda and resist the types of politics that would undermine it.

For the most part, politics has not interfered with achieving major trade deals in New Zealand. Through the early 2000s, the Government succeeded in signing a Free Trade Agreement with China, and more recently, the revised-Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was passed overwhelmingly by New Zealand’s Parliament.

The TPP Deal

I had the honour of being New Zealand’s Trade Minister from 2015 to 2017, a period which oversaw a lot of the negotiation and, eventually, signing of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

It was a great deal for New Zealand that saw increased market access for New Zealand exporters in 40% of the world’s GDP.

My National Party colleagues and I knew of the value of this deal.

Positive step

The Labour Party, New Zealand First Party, and the Green Party, all then in Opposition, disagreed, and all campaigned against this deal. The decision to make trade political threatened the previous trade friendly consensus that we have seen.

It was a positive step when the current Government joined National’s approach to trade and signed up to the TPP.

With our Parliament once again committed to a positive trade agenda, we need to get back to work pushing for closer links with countries, like India, who can help us become more prosperous.

Over the 19 years that Indian Newslink has been in place, New Zealand has seen a positive move towards perusing free and fair trade across the globe.

This approach has led to increased prosperity for New Zealanders and closer ties between us and our trading partners.

But there is always more work to do and we must continue to advance this positive trade agenda and resist the politics that would see it disrupted. 

Todd McClay is elected Member of Parliament from Rotorua and National Party’s Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Tourism. He was Minister of Trade under John Key and Bill English governments.

Photo Caption:

  1. Todd McClay
  2. Todd McClay, during his time as Trade Minister, signing an Air Services Agreement with Columbian Foreign Minister Angela Holguin
  3. European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom meeting with Todd McClay when he visited Europe as Trade Minister two years ago
  4. Todd McClay representing New Zealand as a Minister of the Crown at APEC 2016 in Peru
  5. 5.       British Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alok Sharma in discussion with Todd McClay during the latter’s visit to Britain as Trade Minister

(Pictures Supplied)


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