Free trade fairest

August 28, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says free trade will lift kiwi incomes:

National today released a set of policies that reinforces the Party’s commitment to openness with the world as the path to lift New Zealanders’ incomes, in contrast with opposition parties that want to isolate us from the rest of the world.

“New Zealand’s economic prosperity relies on selling our goods and services to the rest of the world,” says National Party Leader John Key.  “The fewer barriers there are for our exporters, the better off New Zealanders will be.”

“That is why as Prime Minister I have been working hard on behalf of New Zealanders to crack open more doors to free trade, alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser.

“This includes pushing for a high-quality free trade agreement under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes economic giants like the United States and Japan.

“The choice for voters in this area, like so many others, is stark.

“The Greens want to end free trade and Labour, riven by caucus division, is very confused about what it wants after previously being in favour of free trade.  The Dotcom party, of course, is totally opposed to free trade.

“There can be no doubt that this combination in government would damage the cause of New Zealand’s exporters and damage New Zealand’s economic prosperity.

“Raising barriers to the rest of the world and halting the momentum of trade agreements with key markets like the US, Japan and Korea, would be disastrous,” says Mr Key.

“Our policy to encourage free trade is one of the most important ways we can become more prosperous.

“Trade agreements allow New Zealand companies to access big international markets as if they were part of New Zealand’s domestic market.  For a small country they are hugely important.”

Mr Key made the comments at the opening of the New Zealand Winegrowers conference in Blenheim today as National released its Trade, Foreign Affairs and Tourism policies.

“The wine industry is a leading example of New Zealand companies thriving on the world stage,” says Mr Key.

“The policies we are releasing today show our commitment to remaining open to trade with the world, having an independent foreign policy, and encouraging and supporting our crucial tourism industry.

“Should National have the privilege of forming a government after the election, I would continue as Minister of Tourism, working hard to promote New Zealand as a tourism destination,” he says.

Mr Key also announced along with Education Minister Hekia Parata that the National Government has decided to create a $10 million fund over five years to increase the provision of Asian languages in schools.

“These policies together demonstrate National is committed to seeing New Zealand remaining open to the world, continuing to generate economic prosperity through good relations with other countries, and lowering barriers to trade.”

New Zealand would not be where it is economically or socially if it wasn’t for the free trade agreements negotiated by successive governments.

Until recently National and Labour have had a reasonable degree of consensus on the importance of free trade.

That is no longer the case.

Labour is back tracking on its commitment to open borders and it would be dragged further back if it needed the support of the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties to govern.

Only a National-led government will guarantee continuing focus on free trade and the economic and social benefits which come from that.

 


Rural round-up

August 8, 2014

 Anti-foreigner stance ‘short-sighted’:

A New Zealand farming leader says he’s frustrated that a range of political parties are targetting foreigners and saying they shouldn’t be allowed to buy farms.

Federated Farmers vice president Anders Crofoot bought Castlepoint Station in Wairarapa after moving to New Zealand from the United States in the 1990s and went through the Overseas Investment Commission to do so.

The Labour Party has said that if it wins the general election sales of rural land to most foreigners will be banned. . .

Dairy farm purchase boosts employment -

The purchase of a North Otago dairy farm by a company founded by a South Canterbury businessman will create more local jobs, the company says.

Craigmore Sustainables has received Overseas Investment Office approval to purchase a dairy farm in Tussocky Rd, months after buying three other farms in North Otago.

Craigmore is the brainchild of South Canterbury businessman and farmer Forbes Elworthy and is based in London. It also has offices around New Zealand.

“We have an extensive development programme in place for this property, including building a dairy shed, new effluent system, and native planting to assist with nutrient management,” the company’s director of commercial development, Hamish Blackman, said. . .

Lochinver owners want sale money for development – Patrick Gower:

The Kiwi seller of Lochinver Station is a century-old Kiwi business and wants to use the $70 million for a major property development that will help the expansion of Auckland.

Sir William Stevenson was the driving force behind his family’s business empire. He bought Lochinver Station 60 years ago, turning it from a vast wasteland into thriving farmland with 100,000 sheep.

Now, the family’s attempt to sell could be blocked by politics. Sir William’s friend Morrin Cooper says he wouldn’t like that.

“The Stevenson family deserve better than this: to be used as a chopping block just because there happens to be an election around the corner.” . . .

Trade talks failure may cost NZ in Korea:

The Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, is warning that farmers are in danger of losing out in the lucrative South Korean markets if trade talks fail.

The latest round of negotiations have been taking place in Seoul this week.

Last week the Minister for Trade, Tim Groser said he had given his final offer to the Koreans to resolve issues such as easing tariffs for New Zealand’s farmers, which cost exporters $195 million a year. . .

In lean times, it’s still vital to look after your workers – Chris Lewis:

The buzz about town is the revised pay-outs announced by Fonterra and Westland, which have both dropped significantly. So the pressure will be mounting this spring as farmers try to keep their heads above water. In times like these it is important to run a tight ship, not only financially but with your staff.

Stress has a way of brushing off onto those near you so look after yourself and bear a thought for your staff and your family who will not be immune to the pressure. A farm has many different aspects to it and a well cared for and oiled machine will ride out the tough times a lot smoother than one that has been roughing it or neglecting it. . .

Farmers take over yarn mill – Alan Wood:

Wool farmers have an agreement in place to buy a Christchurch yarn mill, describing the deal as a “significant” industry event to supply the carpet manufacturing industry.

Christchurch Yarns NZ went into receivership in April with the high kiwi dollar one of the challenges the business was up against at that time.

The dollar has remained stubbornly high since then and yesterday was trading around US84 cents and A90 cents.

The business was originally Christchurch Carpet Yarns and has its production facility based at a leased Sheffield Cres, Harewood property near Canterbury Technology park. . .

$3m grant boosts agri chemical research – Sue O’Dowd:

Research funding will help a Taranaki chemical-manufacturing company develop products its customers want.

Zelam is one of 52 Taranaki businesses to have received government research grants in the past three years to help them take their ideas for products and services to market.

For the next five years 20 per cent of Zelam’s eligible research costs will be refunded by Callaghan Innovation, a government agency that provides money to businesses that invest in research and development. Each year Zelam invests up to $3 million in chemistry and field trials. . .

"LA PRODUCCIÓN AGROPECUARIA EMPUJA TODA LA ECONOMÍA" Pepe Mujica – Presidente de Uruguay “No estoy de acuerdo con el dejo peyorativo, muy urbanizado, de creer que el campo es estático, que no hay progreso tecnológico ni inversión técnica. Eso es no conocer al país y, quien no lo conoce, no puede quererlo. Y es lo que más me duele”. “La producción agropecuaria empuja a toda la economía y encadena una masa laboral y de energía por los insumos que consume, los apoyos que necesita y el transporte” que requiere, aseguró el presidente oriental. Mujica explicó que las naciones avanzadas son aquellas que producen un bien al menor costo posible para venderlo al mayor valor posible. “ En cuanto al concepto de “valor agregado”, Mujica dijo que, más que la naturaleza del producto en cuestión, es necesario “tener claro cuál es el conjunto tecnológico que hay atrás para llegar a ese producto: es mucho más complejo el (mero) concepto de industrializar”. COMPARTÍ si estás de acuerdo con Pepe Mujica sobre su opinión del sector agropecuario.

The future is in the country.


WTO future in doubt

August 4, 2014

Trade Minister Tim Groser says the collapse of  the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Bali deal  poses fundamental questions about the body’s future role in international trade.

A trade facilitation agreement to cut red tape at borders had been reached in principal in Bali last December at a meeting of trade ministers from the WTO’s 160 member countries.

Although important to efforts to streamline global customs procedures its larger significance had been in the impetus it would have given to finishing the Doha round of trade negotiations, which aims to slash tariffs and agricultural subsidies but which has been languishing since 2008.

That is all in tatters now after the deadline to sign off the Bali deal passed this morning without agreement from all members.

Groser said any efforts that WTO members had been ready to make to move on to a larger deal tackling tariffs and subsidies might now have been dashed by the failure of the trade facilitation deal.

“God knows where this leaves that – if there is no Bali deal then by definition there is no post-Bali work programme.”

The WTO’s director-general Roberto Azevedo said the latest failure threw the organisation’s future into doubt.

“This not just another delay which can simply be ignored or accommodated into a new timetable – this will have consequences.”

Azevedo said the WTO was important not just for its role in negotiating new agreements but also in preventing countries from backsliding into protectionism.

The countries which will be hurt most by this are those which can afford it least.

He said smaller countries had the most to fear if the WTO was to lose its importance in the world trading system.

“The major economies will have other options open to them. But the smaller, more vulnerable economies may not – they’re the ones that may no longer have a seat at the table.”

Groser said the WTO’s mandate as policeman in international trade disputes could come into question if it was no longer seen as a credible institution.

“What will happen if a legal finding about some major country comes through that is politically difficult for that country to implement?

“What will they do? That is the sleeper issue here.” . . .

Liberalisation of trade on a global scale has been moving at a glacial pace but it has been moving forward.

The collapse of the Bali deal and the implications for further liberalisation and the policing of international trade disputes is of great concern.

New Zealand already has free-trade deals with important trading partners including Australia and China and it will continue with bi-lateral and multi-lateral deals.

But any threat to the WTO is a threat to global free trade and a win for protectionism, politics and bureaucrats at the cost of producers and consumers.


Politics Daily

June 9, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Electoral Act breaches

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Some thoughts on Electoral Act breaches

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why won’t the Police act with complaints from the Electoral Commission?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Andrew Little just drew a great big target on the backs of his Labour pals

Beehive

Steven Joyce, Tony Ryall – $78m in health research funding announced

Murray McCully – NZ support for new Pacific eye care centre

Tim Groser – Address to business chambers event – Philippines

Act

Dan Satherley @ TV3 – ACT ‘determined to play straight’ – Whyte

Pete George @ Your NZ – Different impressions of Jamie Whyte

John Banks

TV3 – Sympathy for Banks despite differences

Rob Hosking @ NBR Banks’ departure will clear the air

Michael Fox and Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff –  John Banks’ votes would’ve been rejected

Audrey Young – Conviction delay blindsided Act MP

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Banks departure a less messy solution

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – Silly Laws

TV3 – IPCA considers John Banks inquiry

Labour

Gerry Brownlee – A lawyer’s field day at the taxpayers’ expense

Insurance Council of NZ – Earthquake Court approach misguided

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour’s insurance court

Pete George @ Your NZ - Labour soul searching

No right Turn - A paucity of vision

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour has lost their lost their raison d’etre

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock - Comment of the Day – 9 June 2014

IMP

Pete George @ Your NZ – Dotcom and citizenship

Russel Brown @ Public Address - Meanwhile back at the polls

Green Party

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Greens want 3D printing for NZ

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Taliban’s “3D blueprint” for the future nothing but hype

Other

Education

Hekia Parata – Teachers take role in leadership plan

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Parata on the IES programme

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - The “Tea Party” left

Matthew Beveridge - Leaving on a jet plane 2

Matthew Beveridge - A blast from the past

Stacey Kirk @ Stuff –  Civilian Party ‘a joke on taxpayers’

Eric Crampton @ Offsetting Behaviour – Value for Money election broadcasting edition

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Joyce rated more valuable than Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why readers are turned off by main stream media and voting with their dollars


Rural round-up

June 9, 2014

Review Panel releases consultation document and plans for travel:

The Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel released its public consultation document today. The document can be found on the Review’s website at www.ifsr.co.nz.

WorkSafe New Zealand statistics showed that between 2008 and 2013, there have been 967 reported instances of serious injury related to forestry and logging. In this time 28 workers died in accidents. That is just one person fewer than were killed in the Pike River mining disaster. The Review is being undertaken to address this very poor safety record.

Panel Chair, George Adams commented that “Forestry in New Zealand is far too dangerous. Everyone in the industry recognises that fact and that’s why the Review has been established. It is clear change must occur to prevent injuries and save lives. The consultation document provides an opportunity for everyone in the industry and the public to have a say in what those changes should be”. . . .

Forestry industry leaders need to own, manage and measure contractor health and safety:

Forestry industry leaders need to make themselves accountable for the health and safety of their contractors if the industry’s poor safety record is to improve, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

“They need to own this issue, and they need to manage it and measure how well they and their contractors are performing on health and safety,” says Forum Executive Director Julian Hughes.

A consultation document released today by the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel highlights that there is no simple fix to forestry’s safety problems, Julian says. . .

Time for Silent Majority to be heard:

Forest safety is something that many of the leading forest contractors take seriously. So the next step in the forest safety review process is being welcomed by Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the many forest workers their members employ.

Several industry associations have a keen interest in ensuring that as many workers as possible get their voices heard by the panel members as they move around the country to discuss forest safety and how it can be improved.

One of the groups, the Forest Industry Contractors Association, represents over 55% of the companies providing forest operations and harvesting services. With staff numbers in the thousands it is important that they find their voice and make sure it is heard by review panel members. . .

TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The negotiated positions of parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be crucial in developing other free trade pacts that are either emerging or on the table now, even if the current negotiations fail, says International Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Speaking in the Philippines as part of a business delegation in the capital, Manila, Groser said the TPP negotiations were now “at a crucial stage”, but that if the talks were to fail, the developments they achieved would still prove useful for the ultimate liberalised trade zone, the Free Trade Area in the Asia-Pacific, otherwise known as FTAAP. . .

Spider venom may hold key to saving bees:

Researchers believe spider venom may hold the key to protecting bees from harmful toxins after finding a bio-pesticide made from a combination of plant proteins and the arachnids poison is harmful to pests but not honeybees.

It is thought that neonicotinoid pesticides are behind the dramatic decline in honeybee populations, and this catastrophe could spell disaster for humans as food production greatly relies on pollinators such as the bees.

A team of Newcastle University scientists tested a combination of natural toxins from the venom of the Australian funnel web spider and snowdrop lectin bio-pesticides and found that it allowed honeybees to forage without harm even when exposed to unusually high doses. . .

Agricultural Fieldays keeps growing:

The sprawling national agricultural fieldays site at Mystery Creek near Hamilton has been a hive of activity as exhibitors get ready for the biggest annual event on New Zealand’s rural calendar.

Most of the major structures are up, but preparations and fine tuning will continue into the late hours on Tuesday night, before the gates open on Wednesday morning.

The exhibition area covers about 50 hectares with more than 900 exhibitors on 1380 sites. . .

Top NZ dairy technology goes on show in China:

For dairy operators in China looking to build new dairy complexes, leading dairy technology innovator Waikato Milking Systems and herd management technology company Afimilk offer total milking solutions.

Whether dairy companies in China’s growing dairy industry want a whole new large-scale milking system, or high-technology products to get more out of their existing milking system, these two companies have the expertise to deliver results. The companies will have a joint display at the World Dairy Expo in Xi’an in China on 13 to 15 June 2014. . . .

Commission begins process for the 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission today released a paper outlining the proposed process and timeline for a review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is what Fonterra pays the farmers who supply them milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year and 2013/14 is the second time the Commission will undertake a calculation review. The review will assess the extent to which Fonterra’s approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk. The scope of the review is to only look at the base milk price, not the retail price that consumers pay for milk. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Primary Sector Future Capability Report:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it’s important to have an understanding of the sector’s workforce requirements, to be well placed to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, has today launched the ‘Future capability needs for primary industries in New Zealand’ report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

The report says that for red meat and wool, the challenge will be in training and retaining people with market and product-oriented skills as well as cultural and language capabilities. This is because over 90 per cent of the sheepmeat and beef produced in New Zealand is exported to overseas markets. . . .

Applications Open for Fonterra Farmers to Lock in Guaranteed Milk Price:

Following last week’s announcement of the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, applications are now open for Fonterra farmers to lock in a price for a percentage of their milk.

Building on the success of the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) pilot in the 2013/14 season, Fonterra has further developed the programme to give farmers even more flexibility to help manage the effects of commodity price volatility and give greater income certainty.

There will now be two opportunities in the 2014/15 season to secure a GMP on 60 million kgMS – up to 40 million kgMS is available in June, and up to 20 million kgMS is available in December. There is also a new approach to determine each GMP and allocate the available volume. . . .

Leading New Zealand wine brand celebrates a new beginning:

Matariki, one of New Zealand’s most prestigious wine brands has formally announced its return to market with the launch of its ultra-premium 2009 wines.

Now under the ownership of Taurus Wine Group Limited, the wines remain under the stewardship of John O’Connor and the watchful eye of the mother and her six daughters that form the visible stars in the Matariki constellation, appropriately re-appearing in the night sky on June 28 heralding the Maori New Year.

Matariki is marking its new beginning with the release of its flagship red blend, Quintology and single varietal range Les Filles (The Daughters), all from the 2009 vintage. . .

SATO Signs Master Service Agreement with Fonterra:

SATO, a leader in barcode printing, labeling, and EPC/RFID solutions, announced today that it has signed a Master Service Agreement (MSA) with Fonterra Cooperative Group Limited, a leading global dairy company based in New Zealand, to provide supplies, services, and support for barcode systems in Fonterra’s factories and distribution centers worldwide.

SATO has been working closely with Fonterra in New Zealand and Australia, playing an instrumental role in standardizing their barcoding systems and configurations. Furthering this partnership, SATO Holdings Corporation and Fonterra have signed an MSA which will cover all countries Fonterra operates in, allowing SATO’s global subsidiaries to better offer localized services matching the requirements of Fonterra operations in each country. Key applications that can be provided under the agreement include product traceability solutions, product anti-counterfeiting solutions, label management and printing solutions, wireless infrastructure solutions, and many more. . . .

Grand Final tickets selling out:

The showcase event of the rural community is just weeks away and tickets for events are selling out fast.

New Zealand Young Farmers members, supporters and competitors will descend upon Christchurch for the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final, 3-5 July.

Over a demanding three days the seven Grand Finalists will be put through their paces in a number of challenges, tested on all facets of New Zealand agriculture and farming.
Lincoln University Library will play host to the Official Opening, Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm, as the Grand Finalists come together for the first of two head-to-head challenges. Free for spectators. . .


Rural round-up

March 23, 2014

Irrigator wins Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

IrrigationNZ congratulates Mark and Devon Slee on taking out the main prize at last night’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark is a board member of IrrigationNZ with an irrigated dairy farm in Ealing within Ashburton District employing 13 full time and two part time staff.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Mark and Devon’s sustainable irrigation practices and investment in technology played a large part in their win.

“Mark and Devon are among our top performing irrigators because of their significant investment in technology and personal commitment to reducing their environmental footprint,” says Mr Curtis. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week. . .

Minister signs new conservation accord:

An accord between the newly established $100 million NEXT Foundation and the Government was signed in Nelson today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The NEXT Foundation is an incredible deed of generosity which has the potential to deliver huge steps forward for conservation in New Zealand. This Accord is about providing the right framework for DOC to partner with the Foundation and to ensure we maximise the conservation gains from this huge investment,” Dr Smith says.

“There are two key elements to the Accord. The first is in ensuring these funds go to new projects that are out and above the work the Government would have ordinarily done. The second is in providing a commitment that the conservation gains are maintained into the future. . . .

Ministers leading agribusiness delegation to South America:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are leading an agribusiness delegation to Chile and Colombia from 23-28 March.

“Latin America is a valued trading partner for New Zealand and a fast growing region,” says Mr Groser. 

“Our relationship with Chile is thriving with a high level of engagement in areas such as energy and environment, agriculture and education. They are encouraging New Zealand business to explore future investment opportunities and we hope to build on this.

“In Colombia we are aiming to build a greater understanding of the market, through a range of farm visits and meetings with local Ministers and authorities.” . . .

Arable research body sets strategy:

The Foundation for Arable Research has just launched its next three-year strategy, which aims to keep arable farming a good viable option for farmers.

Chief executive Nick Pyke says the key points include making sure they have the right people doing the research and having leading research that has the ability to make a difference for farmers.

He says arable farming is buoyant at the moment and they want that to continue. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer – Greg Peterson:

Chipotle’s videos depict today’s farmers as huge, industrial farmers, concerned not about ethics and animalwelfare, but motivated rather by greed and money. This could not be further from the truth!

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are? . . .

Rural Women™ International Year of Family Farming Roadshow kicks off next week:

Four South Island towns will be celebrating the International Year of Family Farming next week, as the Rural Women NZ roadshow series gets underway. Three North Island events will follow in early April.

“Rural Women NZ has always backed families working on the land, and in the rural communities that surround them,” says Liz Evans, who is promoting the Rural Women NZ roadshow to be held in Marlborough’s Rai Valley on 30 March.

“For this reason, we were ‘first in’ to initiate a nationwide programme of events to support the UN International Year of Family Farming, a timely opportunity to celebrate the dedication and contribution of farming families, past, present and future.” . . .

Lick block increases lamb survival in triplet bearing ewes:

Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11% increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford’s Rosebank Farm near Gore was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes. . . 

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme. . .

Seed Industry Opens New Office in Templeton, Christchurch:

The New Zealand seed industry is pleased to announce the official opening of its new office in Templeton, Christchurch.

The opening on Wednesday was officiated by the Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and attended by over 100 VIPs and guests including Kelvin Coe, the Mayor of Selwyn District.

“It’s a huge honour for our industry to have the Minister officiate and his acknowledgement of the vital importance of our sector to the wider primary industry,” says General Manager Thomas Chin. . .


Case for FTAs

February 13, 2014

Trade Minister Tim Groser puts the case for Free Trade Agreements:

Over the last 30-40 years, NZ has suffered grievously, perhaps more than any other developed economy, from lack of trading opportunities. This is the consequence of massive protectionism and subsidies on the products where we are internationally competitive.

This was not an issue for NZ until 1973. That was the year when our dominant market, the UK, which had been completely open to us, joined the then EEC. From that date, protectionism became a huge constraint on our growth and incomes. I have no doubt this is one major reason why NZ was still the 6th richest country in the world in 1975 but then started to slip sideways in the last quarter of the 20th Century. As a consequence, Trade Policy has been a very large part of any sensible NZ economic policy over the past decades. And frankly, to anticipate what I am going to say, we did not need then (or need now) any econometric model to tell any responsible NZ Government that they needed to negotiate new trade agreements to provide our people with opportunities and space to compete.

A simple way of looking at it is that NZ tends to sell what we do best to middle income and high-middle income consumers. In the past, by and large, they lived only in Europe and North America and there we faced historically huge barriers and massive unfair subsidisation, until successful trade negotiations in the last GATT Round, the Uruguay Round, started to chip away at these trade barriers. But NZ is no longer totally dependent on what happens in Europe and North America and thus access to their middle class customers. Today, the middle class of Asia is emerging. It is estimated today around 500 million and as soon as 2030 will be some 3.5 billion. This is simply a phenomenal opportunity and what is driving NZ Trade Policy.

But economic opportunity is one thing. As an exporter you still need access to those consumers and this is about trade agreements.

To the New Zealanders present, I will put it bluntly. We will never persuade certain people who are trying continually to foment opposition to NZ’s participation in these agreements in spite of New Zealand’s demonstrable need for trade opportunities and a fairer deal in world trade. They have been opposed to the GATT and WTO. They opposed the NZ/Singapore FTA, the origin of both TPP and the AANZFTA Agreement which is merging the contiguous FTAs of Australia/NZ with the ten countries of ASEAN. Some of them opposed the recent deal with Taiwan and most of all – because it involves the United States – they are opposed to TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. When they wake up and realise there is another TPP-like negotiation going on – RCEP, or Regional Closer Economic Partnership Agreement which involves 16 countries including crucially China – I am sure they will be opposed to that too.

I am not going to talk about them directly, because they are not my concern. In fact, I can go further: I think they feel the same way about us – we are not their concern either. I don’t believe for a minute that either I, as Trade Minister, or the National-led Government of which I am a part, is their real audience. They are trying to influence other people, and other political constituencies. They are hoping that they would, if given the political opportunity, take NZ in a different direction on trade, when historically NZ has had a strong and highly successful bipartisan approach to trade for at least three decades.

It is not that we, and people with the same pro-trade views, have not thought closely about the issues. Start, not with models, which try to look forward, but with empirical work done on the link between open trade policies and growth, which looks backward to measure practical results.

The Gains from Trade: Empirical Work

The most comprehensive survey of hundreds of scholarly articles over the last decade or two was put together in 2011 in a collective study by the world’s pre-eminent international economic institutions – the OECD, the World Bank, the WTO, the ILO, UNCTAD. It was called ‘Policy Priorities for International Trade and Jobs’.

I only have time to give you their overall conclusion. Their conclusion is dripping in irony, which is rare for such organisations:

“Despite all the debate about whether openness [on trade] contributes to growth, if the issue were truly one warranting nothing but agnosticism, we should expect at least some of the estimates to be negative…The uniformly positive estimates suggest that the relevant terms of the debate by now should be about the size of the positive influence of openness on growth….rather than about whether increased levels of trade relative to GDP have a positive effect on productivity and growth”.
Even that will not stop some outlier academic coming out with a different view. But such views are extreme views. The overwhelming majority of economists support open trade policies. As the OECD caustically said, the debate should be only about the size of the positive gains from trade. . .

This is a relatively small extract from a long speech which concludes:

. . . Trade is vital to jobs, to a growing economy that can provide New Zealanders with a range of good choices. NZ is a country which has suffered grievously from the sovereign right of other countries to cut us out of their markets, to subsidise relentlessly their companies and competitive sectors not just in their domestic markets but in other markets through export subsidies, and to refuse to recognise our technical or quarantine standards as legitimate for sale to their consumers.

Protectionism has been a disaster for NZ over the past 30-40 years. Thanks in part to these pretty well designed trade agreements I am very optimistic about this country’s long term future. We are in a much better space today and I see every reason to believe it will get better still.

Tariffs and other protectionist measures restrict choice, add costs for consumers and taxpayers, reward inefficiency and encourage corruption.

Free trade is fair trade and without it New Zealand’s economy would be stuffed.


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