Rotorua Weekender: TPP good for Rotorua

Friday, October 9, 2015

This week the largest free trade agreement in New Zealand’s history was signed by 12 countries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, has had its opponents, however the reality is this is very good news for Rotorua and New Zealand. This agreement gives our exporters much better access to a market of more than 800 million customers in Asia and the Pacific – something our forestry industry will reap great benefits from.

The overall benefit to New Zealand is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030. That means more jobs, higher incomes and a better standard of living for all of us.

Locally, the TPP benefits will be significant.  The agreement will see tariffs eliminated on 93 per cent of our exports into the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

All tariffs on forestry products will be eliminated – as will tariffs on almost everything else we export in the region. The only exclusions were some dairy products and beef into Japan.

Those who opposed TPP said we would pay more for our medicines – we will not. And that the PHARMAC model would change – it will not.

They said we could be sued by big tobacco companies, but the agreement will not allow that.

As with any negotiation, concessions have been made. We would have preferred a better deal for dairy, however, let’s not forget that we have still gained our dairy exporters preferential access to new quotas in the US, Japan, Canada and Mexico – and had tariffs eliminated on some dairy products.

Beef is a big win, with duty free access gained into the US – the largest consumers of beef in the world. We would also have liked the tariffs on beef into Japan to be eliminated. That did not happen, but no New Zealand beef farmer will be complaining that the tariffs into Japan on our beef have dropped from 38.5 per cent down to 9 per cent.

As we have seen with previous free trade agreements, including China, they are very positive for New Zealand. Trade and Investment grows and that creates jobs.

FTAs also grow relationships and tourism, as we have seen with China. That has to be good news for Rotorua.

The alternative, not being part of an FTA with the largest, and third largest, economies in the world would have been a huge missed opportunity.

We are a small nation that relies on trade with the world.

Successive governments have been trying to sign this agreement for 25 years. We should celebrate its conclusion.