City Soapbox, Hamilton News, February 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

TPP offers huge opportunities for New Zealand

Last week I attended events at Waitangi marking the 176th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  While the media focus was on protest and division, the atmosphere up north was very different. I was privileged to attend the beautiful dawn service in our national marae, as well as the opening of the magnificent new Museum of Waitangi.  It’s a superb addition to our historic and cultural heritage and will become a “must do” activity for future visitors to the north.

At the time of writing I’m savouring the Black Caps’ stunning win in the deciding Chappell-Hadlee Trophy match at Seddon Park. What a great way to farewell Brendon McCullum at the end of his ODI career – and didn’t he go out in style!

Monday also marked the start of the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese calendar. The lunar new year will be widely celebrated in Hamilton, symbolising our growing diversity and cultural maturity. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Our relationship with Asia Pacific countries will grow even stronger with the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

There has been a lot of misinformation circulating about TPP so I encourage readers to study the National Interest Analysis that was published last month for detailed information about its benefits to NZ. More information is available on MFAT’s website. The legislative changes to implement TPP will go through normal policy and Parliamentary procedures.

The proven and significant benefits to NZ of all the previous trade deals we have entered into (notably CER and the China FTA) suggest that the gains for NZ from TPP will be immense.

It is NZ’s first FTA relationship with five of the TPP countries, including the world’s largest and third-largest economies – the United States and Japan. Successive New Zealand Governments have been working to achieve this for 25 years.

That’s why former Labour Prime Ministers Mike Moore and Helen Clark, and more recent Labour leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer, have been so strongly supportive of New Zealand’s involvement in TPP, along with their National Party counterparts.

TPP will provide much better access for goods and services to more than 800 million people across the TPP countries, which make up 36 per cent of global GDP. It is estimated to boost our economy by at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030. That will help to diversify our economy and mean more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders.

Our future prosperity lies in being internationally connected. The world doesn’t owe us a living and we can’t make one by selling to ourselves.  If we want to secure further improvements in our first class public services we must keep growing our economy to pay for them.