Political story of the day

June 20, 2014

While sideshows and mud slinging are getting attention, the government is getting on with business as normal which includes working hard to progress freer trade.

Time to get down to business on tangled trade deal - Audrey Young:

At 3am tomorrow, New Zealand time, John Key will have the second most important meeting of his visit to the United States.

It’s a lunch meeting with US Trade Representative Mike Froman at the New Zealand Embassy, where ambassador Mike Moore, a former World Trade Organisation director general, will also be present.

Froman is effectively leading the Trans Pacific Partnership talks, which are in a parlous state.

Rescuing the deal from a pitiful result is Key’s top priority for the trip. . .

New Zealand already has very open borders which means we have little to lose and a lot to gain from any free trade deals and the TPP would be particularly helpful if it includes agricultural produce.

But negotiations are painstakingly slow.

 


End of Free Trade consensus

June 13, 2014

Wayne Mapp fears for the future of free trade:


. . . For decades now National and Labour have had a cosy little arrangement when it comes to free trade. Both parties could count on each other to provide a solid bloc of votes in parliament to pass any bill implementing free trade agreements.

So any hyperventialting by the Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party or Mana counted for nothing. Jane Kelsey might get to write as many op-eds as she likes, but she has virtually no influence on the actual outcome of the free trade agenda. The solid National–Labour coalition ensures that the relevant legislation will pass.

But will this arrangement prevail after this election?

Clearly, if National is elected they will want to pass legislation implementing various aspects of TPP, in the event that the TPP treaty is finalised and signed between 2014 and 2017. Of course any such treaty will not be exactly as New Zealand wants since it will be a compromise between fourteen nations. . .

New Zealand already has very open borders. Other countries with more restrictions will be held back by powerful lobby groups wanting them to continue.

To get consensus will require compromises.

But the shape of the TPP treaty is starting to emerge. There will be a long drawn-out phase down of tariffs and quotas in agricultural products. The timing of the phase down will be dictated by Japan and the United States, and it will extend over many years, perhaps as many as twenty. Copyright terms will be extended to 70 years or more. State trading entities like Pharmac could lose at least some of their exclusive rights. There will be an international tribunal for major investment disputes.

For National this will be OK. Over time the US, Japanese and Canadian agricultural markets will open up. And provided the loss of the Pharmac monopoly is not too dramatic, it will be seen to be a good trade off. . .

National is quite clear it supports free trade – but labour is no longer.

This election could see Labour down in the low 30s as a percentage of the total vote. If a combination of Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Internet Mana can form a government, Labour is only going to be 60% of the government, at most.

That has risks for more than trade.

All its likely partners have opposed every single free trade agreement over the last two decades. Collectively they could demand that Labour not support the TPP as a price of coalition. And could Labour resist such a demand?

What’s more, if the Left (apologies to Winston who is not really left) do not have enough votes to form a government, would Labour still continue the cosy arrangement of supporting free trade agreements? Increasingly Labour activists, including their left leaning MP’s, oppose TPP. David Cunliffe, supported by Phil Goff and others, has positioned the party to be able to vote for TPP. But that is before the election. An election loss could well weaken the free trade faction in Labour.

Such a result would cause Labour to look deeply at it options, just as did with National when it lost in 2005. The Labour MPs will be looking at three terms in opposition. They will console themselves that this is the normal political cycle in New Zealand. But they will not be able to tolerate the thought of four terms in opposition. They will do whatever it takes to make themselves electable in 2017.

And in the event of an election loss, what will be the fate of Labour’s longstanding support of free trade when they weigh up what they will have to do for 2017?

New Zealand is one of the best performing economies in the OCED because of the efforts successive governments have put into opening our borders and developing new markets.

Returning to the bad old days of protection and subsidies would harm our economy and the social and environmental initiatives which depend on its strength.

And if Labour lurches even further left on trade what other dangerous territory might it enter in a desperate attempt to be elected?


Protection costs

February 17, 2014

An educational story about the costs of protection:

In 1990, Brach’s Confections Inc. threatened to close a West Side factory that employed 1,100 people. The candy maker said it would move abroad unless the federal government acted to reduce the artificially inflated cost of sugar. Washington ignored the threat, and Brach’s found ways to keep the plant going. But in 2003, it closed the factory and sent much of the work to Mexico.

The reason for the move was a federal undertaking whose entire purpose is to prop up the price of sugar for the benefit of a small number of growers. It does so by restricting imports, limiting how much farmers can plant and guaranteeing them a certain price. These methods work: The price of sugar in this country is usually double or triple the price in the rest of the world.

That enduring accomplishment comes at a cost to companies that buy sugar, like Brach’s. It also burdens a larger group of people: those who eat. In a typical year, the average American consumes nearly 100 pounds of sugar and other high-calorie sweeteners. The total cost to consumers amounts to as much as $3.5 billion a year.

That doesn’t count the jobs shipped to Mexico or Canada. Defenders claim the program saves American jobs in sugar production. But a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that for each job it saves in those sectors, it destroys three jobs in candy making.

It’s not just that protection costs consumers and taxpayers, it costs jobs as well.

But there is an alternative:

For decades, Life Savers were made at a facility in Holland, Mich. But in 2003, Kraft Foods shut it and moved the production to a plant near Montreal.

What does Quebec have to offer that Michigan doesn’t? The Canadian Sugar Institute is happy to explain: “The Canadian sugar industry is internationally unique in that it does not depend on government subsidies. Basing its prices on world raw sugar markets, it sells sugar at prices that are among the lowest in the world.”

Some companies can afford to eat the extra cost of operating in the U.S. But when the composition of your product is 99 percent sugar, it’s not so easy. . .

Given that sugar is now regarded as a harmful substance this might not cause much concern, but it’s not just sugar producers who are protected in the USA and elsewhere.

Growers have been protected by import barriers since 1789, and the current complicated system dates back to the Great Depression.

The country was a very different place then. In 1930, one of every four Americans lived on a farm. Today, it’s one in 50. But the farm bill passed by Congress and signed by the president this month was a missed opportunity to enact changes that would reflect the vast changes over the past 80 years.

The politicians could have started with this system, which bleeds the many to enrich the few. “No industry is as coddled as farming, and no industry as centrally planned from Washington,” writes Cato Institute policy analyst Chris Edwards. “The federal sugar program is perhaps the most Soviet of all.”  . .

New Zealand farming used to be very heavily protected and subsidised.

Producers responded to the dictates of politicians and bureaucrats rather than the market and as a result we produced food no-one wanted to buy.

Farming became very difficult when we were forced into the real world in the mid-1980s but we got through that and now the industry and the country are far better for it.

If the Trans Pacific Partnership succeeds, farmers in the USA and other countries which sign up to it will go through some short-term pain as we did but they and their countries will benefit in the medium to longer term as we did.

Apropos of the TPP – Pattrick Smellie explains 10 things its opponents don’t want you to grasp.


No exceptions for tariffs under TPP

January 31, 2014

The Trans Pacific Partnership must eliminate all tariffs on agricultural and seafood products:

A coalition of 18 New Zealand agricultural and food organisations, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Fonterra Cooperative Group, has written to the Ministers of Trade and Primary Industries outlining its concern that some TPP members are seeking to avoid tariff elimination on some products.

The letter sets out to Ministers Tim Groser and Nathan Guy that the coalition will not support a TPP agreement that does not include comprehensive liberalisation in the agricultural and seafood sectors by all participating countries.

The group says it is vital that the agreement provides comprehensive tariff elimination as set out in the objectives of the 2011 TPP Leaders meeting in Honolulu. The group is concerned that:

  • If any one country is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unravelling of the agreement.
  • Allowing any one country to claim an exception for “sensitive” products sets a dangerous precedent for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking to join the TPP Agreement at a future date.

A Ministerial meeting to discuss TPP issues is expected to be held in late February 2014.

A little exception for some tariffs would be like being a little bit pregnant – it wouldn’t stop there.

Tariffs protect the inefficient at the cost of better producers .

They also add costs for consumers who pay more and have less choice.

An immediate end to all tariffs might be unrealistic but the TPP must ensure that is the goal that must be reached sooner rather than later.


Welcome progress on TPP

December 15, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the significant progress made during the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial meetings in Singapore.

“I am pleased to report that we have substantially advanced the negotiation here in Singapore.  My colleagues and I were able to make good progress across the negotiating agenda, keeping true to the objectives Leaders have set for the negotiation.  In many areas we have identified potential landing zones that will guide the final phase of work.”

While more work remains to be done, Mr Groser said that momentum is accelerating in the negotiation and he was confident that conclusion of a comprehensive, high quality, 21st century agreement was in sight. 

“However, we will not short change ourselves.  We will take as long as needed to achieve a deal that eliminates trade barriers for New Zealand exporters and can advance our vision of regional economic integration in the Asia Pacific.  The gains a high quality TPP would generate for the New Zealand economy demand we get this right.”

TPP Ministers and negotiators have agreed to next meet in January.

Business organisations in New Zealand have reacted positively to the announcement of substantive progress.

“If it takes longer for TPP to be concluded so be it,” said Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of the both the NZ International Business Forum and NZ US Council.

“Trade Minister Tim Groser and his officials deserve congratulations for their perseverance in continuing what we know is a challenging negotiation.”

Mr Jacobi said New Zealand businesses wanted to see a high quality, substantive and comprehensive outcome to TPP.

“It’s positive that Ministers have been able to identify what they call “landing zones” in the majority of areas under negotiation. To land TPP clearly requires additional work. We should continue to do all we can to support the achievement of a TPP that meets New Zealand’s interests and makes a strong contribution to growth and jobs.”

Former Labour leader and former Trade Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand would be a winner with the TPP.

New Zealand would benefit more than most countries from a concluded Trans Pacific Partnership deal, former Labour trade minister Phil Goff told the Herald last night.

“We have the least barriers and therefore we have the least we have to give away,” he said. “Other countries have to give away much more.

“While there are all sorts of problems involved in this negotiation, you have to look at the wider picture and the wider picture is that each country will benefit from a successful conclusion to it but New Zealand will benefit more than most.” . . .

This view isn’t shared by all his colleagues nor by potential coalition partners the Green and Mana Parties.

It’s a pity opponents to the deal can’t see past their ideology to the benefits free trade brings to producers and consumers.

The only losers will be the favoured few businesses which benefit from lack of competition and the bureaucrats and politicians who gain power, and money, from tariffs and subsidies.


Rural round-up

December 7, 2013

Lochinver set for record price – Stephen Bell:

Lochinver Station on the Napier-Taupo Road is expected to set a New Zealand farm price record of more than $70 million.

Though bigger farms have been sold in the South Island Lochinver is the most productive rural property ever put up for sale in NZ, Bayleys managing director Mike Bayley said.

The land was waste and scrub when Sir William Stevenson bought it in 1958.

It is now being sold as Stevenson Group, one of the country’s biggest privately-owned companies, rebalances its investment portfolio to exclude farming, chief executive Mark Franklin said. . . .

Trade deals coming thick and fast – Alan Barber:

The TPP may not be happening as soon as expected, but free trade agreements with individual markets, Chinese Taipei and Peru, will come into effect, some aspects immediately, and provide more immediate rewards for our exporters.

Although multinational trade negotiations make more dramatic headlines, history suggests that they have a similar gestation period to an elephant, in fact quite a bit longer in the case of WTO rounds. The TPP looks as if it will follow a similar course because of the USA’s demands about trade partners’ internal arrangements, like Pharmac, and farmer lobbies in countries like Japan and South Korea. This makes it extremely difficult to conclude a binding agreement that meets the requirements of all the countries participating in the negotiations.

Unilateral trade agreements are not as highly regarded or sought after, but they are an essential part of international trade and, for New Zealand with its high trade dependency, very important to our future prosperity. . .

Police fear poaching fatality – Neil Ratley:

Farm workers and their houses are being caught in the spotlights of poachers, and southern police fear someone will be killed unless the illegal practice is stopped.

Constable Steve Winsloe of Winton said police and farmers were taking a collaborative approach to the problem to prevent a potential tragedy.

Landowners had had enough and were working with police to prevent poaching and other rural crime, he said.

“Farmers are getting caught in the spotlights when they are out working after dark. It just takes one poacher to see a glint of an eye that may not be an animal and they pull the trigger” he said.

“The last thing police want is a fatal shooting.” . . .

ANZCO bounces back into profit - Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has released early its trading result – a pre-tax profit of $12.6 million – in response to what it says are rumours about its financial strength.

The company was not only profitable in the year ended September 30 but increased its operating cashflow and equity ratio on a year earlier.

Revenue increased to $1.28 billion, from $1.21b previously.

It will also pay a dividend to shareholders, as it has done every year since the shareholding structure was put in place in 2001, chairman Sir Graeme Harrison said. . . .

Alliance operations on move - Collette Devlin:

The Alliance Group is in the process of transferring beef rendering operations to its new $25 million rendering plant at Lorneville in Invercargill.

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff said the company started moving operations from the Mataura beef plant about a week ago.

It was also clearing out the rendering plant at Makarewa, where lamb slinks processing finished about a month ago, he said.

Alliance Group is consolidating its southern rendering operations at the new Lorneville plant to improve productivity. . . .

Flood of interest in storage dam idea- Matthew Littlewood:

The burgeoning Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury has led to a rush of applications for water storage dams.

Environment Canterbury’s consents spokeswoman confirmed that none of the 21 applications within the Arundel-based scheme’s 16,000 hectare “command area” were declined, because all of them fitted within its notified Land and Water Regional Plan.

“To clarify – these are off-channel storage dams (no waterways were dammed) and these include four certificates of compliance (where a dam met the permitted activity requirements and no consent was required),” she said.

The capacity of the storage dams ranged from 8000 to 210,000 cubic metres. . . .


Rural round-up

October 30, 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Puts Case to Washington:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and representatives from other Five Nations Beef Alliance partners have called on Washington’s Capitol Hill to promote a unified view of how trade in agricultural products – and especially beef – should be treated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The TPP, which is currently being negotiated and of which New Zealand is a participant, aims to open up trade in goods and services. Progress towards an outcome was most recently reviewed in Bali, where Prime Minister John Key chaired the meeting of the 12 TPP negotiating countries.

The Five Nations Beef Alliance is made up of the national organisations that represent beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. Collectively, the five countries account for one third of global beef production and approximately half of global beef exports. . .

New Zealand food and beverage producers need to be bulletproof:

New Zealand food and beverage producers need to ensure their operations are “bulletproof” if they want to compete in an increasingly aggressive global marketplace, an industry expert says.

Grant Thornton New Zealand Partner and National Leader, Food and Beverage, Simon Hunter, is describing the firm’s latest International Food and Beverage sector report, ‘Hunger for growth: Food and Beverage looks to the future’, as a wake-up call for the local industry.

The report, based on interviews with 248 senior executives in seven countries (including New Zealand), says 90% expect revenues to increase in the next 12 months but only half expect to employ more people. . .

Gigatown competition will change the future for one town:

Federated Farmers is excited by Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town.

“This competition is a great opportunity for rural towns,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive.

“If a rural town wins it will become the first town in the southern hemisphere to receive one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe.

“New Zealand’s farmers are desperate for new ways to get onto the internet and this competition has the potential, for one fortunate town, to spark innovation and mobilise and transform their local economy and society. . . .

(This is why we’re supporting #gigatownoam and the #gigatown campaign).

Fonterra board to set up separate risk committee after food scare review – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The board of Fonterra Cooperative Group will establish a separate committee to oversee risks facing the dairy group in the wake of the false alarm food scare that prompted a precautionary recall in August.

The company’s board will carve out the risk elements from its audit, finance and risk committee into its own separate committee, which chairman John Wilson said will cover “food safety, food quality and other risks Fonterra in today’s environment faces.”

The measure was one of a raft of recommendations from the board-ordered inquiry, led by Jack Hodder QC, after recall of three batches of whey protein concentrate, which were thought to have been contaminated.

Fonterra’s handling of the fall-out was “inadequate” for the kind and size of the crisis and the company’s lack of responsiveness to external stakeholders was seen as a “fortress” mentality, the report said. . . .

Shareholders’ Council welcomes report, inquiry recommendations:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which safeguards the interests of the dairy Co-operative’s 10,500 Shareholders, said it welcomed the completion of the Fonterra Board commissioned independent report of the WPC80 issue.

Council Chairman, Ian Brown: “The Council has received the report and we commend the Oversight Committee and the Independent Inquiry Team on the comprehensive nature of the report.

“We also commend the Board on their openness and support their decision to make the report public. . .

New health & safety regulations will increase potential penalties for employers:

The potential for higher penalties for non-compliance as a result of upcoming changes to Health and Safety regulations means employers in the high-risk agricultural sector need to be more aware than ever of their obligations, says Melissa Vining, AGRI Consultant for human resources specialists Progressive Consulting – the HR division of Crowe Horwath.

The government will establish new Crown Agent WorkSafe New Zealand by December 2013, when it also plans to introduce to parliament a new Health and Safety at Work Act, which is expected to come into force by December 2014. . . .

Xero releases farming blueprint:

Xero has released its Farming Integration Guide, a blueprint that helps rural solution providers connect to Xero and deliver integrated farm management and accounting solutions. 

Xero CEO Rod Drury says this is a great example of technology bringing an industry together. “This guide is the key step towards full integration between farmers, rural accountants, rural suppliers, banks and software providers. The innovation we’re experiencing in the tech sector is being applied directly now to the rural economy, the backbone of the NZ economy.” . . .


NZ will win with TPP

October 14, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser said there was no need for concern about the content of the Trans Pacific Partnership:

“When this deal is done, I am certain that I and the Prime Minister will be able to come in from of New Zealanders and say: ‘this is virtually all upside’.”

“In relative terms, New Zealand will gain more than any country in TPP … the structure of these massive protective barriers that will come down will benefit New Zealand more than any country in this negotiation.” . . .

. . .  Mr Groser . . . said concerns about intellectual property and patents under the TPP had been “wildly exaggerated”.

He said the United States is the “most innovative country in the world” so their intellectual property law could hardly chill innovation.

New Zealanders would not be paying more for drugs as a result of TPP, Mr Groser said.

“I’ve said categorically Pharmac is not on the table.”

ANZCO Foods chair Sir Graeme Harrison said New Zealand has a lot more to gain from the TPP now Japan’s in the negotiations.

He said:

New Zealand could bring in $5 billion per year in our exports now Japan was involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), compared to $3.5 billion without Japan.

The increase in exports to Japan could mean a 2% gain in GDP, with many of the gains in the primary industries, he said. . .

He said Japan’s inclusion has made the TPP more worthwhile for the United States, which in turn will work in New Zealand’s favour.

“All of this comes together with two countries, the world’s first and third largest economy, both believing in a rules-based trading system, that are on our side, and we can have quite an influence in that process.”

Both were speaking on The Nation yesterday. You can watch the full interviews here.

New Zealand has a very small domestic market and we have one of the most open economies in the world.

We’ve already gone through the hard part of giving up protection and puts us ahead of most of the other countries which are negotiating the TPP.

We have a lot to gain and very little to lose from the successful completion of the TPP agreement.


Rural round-up

October 10, 2013

TPP a matter of when not if says farming leader:

Having returned from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Federated Farmers believes the logic for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is so strong and its advantages so apparent, that the absence of President Obama from negotiations will not unduly dent its progress.

“The talk at the WTO in Geneva was when the TPP will happen and not if,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President, who attended the WTO’s 2013 Public Forum where he co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s new trade policy.

“Naturally, there was much talk about the United States Government shutdown and what that may mean if a default does take place in just nine-day’s time.

“I sense the Obama Administration is frustrated that domestic political brinkmanship means the President had to stay in Washington. The focus of his administration is building the U.S. economy by exports and that’s the focus of both Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and TPP negotiations. I must say that U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, is a handy substitute. . .

Special agricultural trade envoy hails TPP progress:

New Zealand’s special agricultural trade envoy is hailing what he sees as the progress made at the latest Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks in Bali.

But Mike Petersen agrees with the prime minister that the target of getting an agreement by the the end of the year is still going to be hard work.

John Key chaired Tuesday’s TPP meeting in the absence of the American president, says there’s plenty of political momentum among the 12 countries to get a deal.

The Agricultural Trade envoy, Hawke’s Bay farmer Mike Petersen, says getting trade reforms for agriculture was always going to be challenging, because it will take a political will in countries where there are still high levels of subsidy and tariff protection. . .

First registration of a sustainable agrichemical for the SFF minor crops project:

A new sustainable agrichemical that controls the leafroller pest on New Zealand’s blueberry crops is the first of many registered products to be released as part of the Government lead Sustainable Farming Fund.

The Minor Crops project team coordinated by Horticulture NZ announced the recent release of the insecticide ‘Prodigy™’ Trademark of the Dow Chemical Company (Dow) or an affiliated company of Dow for use on blueberries.

This is the first product to be registered as a result of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) project ‘Registration of sustainable agrichemicals for minor crops’. . .

Mental health courses for rural professionals:

The Nelson and Marlborough Public Health Service, in association with Federated Farmers, Like Minds and Rural Support Trust are hosting a seminar to help participants recognise the signs of depression.

“We are targeting rural professionals that work with farmers, so they are able to identify if a farmer is stressed, anxious, angry or sad, which are all sign signs of depression. This way they will be better placed to know how to help the farmer in question,” says Gavin O’Donnell, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“Rural professionals such as rural bankers, vets, contractors and so on are far more likely to be in a position to identify if there is a problem because they encounter farmers more frequently and in their natural environment. . .

Rural Women NZ Leads on International Year of Family Farming 2014:

Rural Women New Zealand is excited to play a key role in organising a programme of events to celebrate the UN International Year of Family Farming in 2014.

As a member of the steering committee that will liaise directly with the UN, Rural Women NZ has hosted the first meeting in Wellington to start the planning process.

Convened by Organic Systems and Adams Harman, others taking part in the meeting included DairyNZ, Horticulture New Zealand, the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, Young Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Family farming has been the backbone of New Zealand’s rural economy for more than a century, and Rural Women New Zealand has led advocacy and growth for farming families and rural communities since 1925,” says Rural Women NZ’s national president, Liz Evans. . .

NZB Caulfield Championship Finale:

The New Zealand Bloodstock Spring WFA Championship at Caulfield is set to conclude this weekend with the running of the Group 1 A$400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes over 2000m.

With (It’s a) Dundeel (NZ) now out of contention, the Championship winner is a forgone conclusion with Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock) holding an unassailable lead having won Race 2 in the Championship Series – the New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes – and placing second in the Group 1 Underwood.

The champion mare may have scared many away with Saturday’s feature race only attracting a small field of six runners, but it carries plenty of quality with the field winning a total of eight Group 1 races between them. . .


Rural round-up

May 23, 2013

Fears over future water policies:

Get involved or risk losing out.

That was the message to farmers from industry leaders, who say they fear that apathy could lead to Canterbury’s future water policies being unfriendly to farmers.

This was because of low attendance rates at zone committee meetings and at Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Regional Plan hearings.

These leaders were attending a forum on water management that took place at South Canterbury Federated Farmers annual meeting.

Former Opuha Water chief executive Peter Scott urged farmers to ”get into the game”. . .

TPP Has the Potential to Revitalise Japan’s Agriculture Sector:

Research released by the New Zealand Asia Institute today has found that Japan joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could potentially trigger a revitalisation of its agriculture sector.

The independent research, funded by Fonterra, was conducted by Professors Hugh Whittaker and Rob Scollay from The University of Auckland. They investigated the potential implications of the TPP on the Japanese agricultural sector, which is a proposed free trade agreement under negotiation between 12 countries including New Zealand and also Japan, who only joined earlier this year. . .

Lupins help farm to victory – Gerald Piddock:

The use of lupins as a forage crop has helped a Mackenzie farmer win the fine wools section of the 2013 New Zealand Ewe Hogget Competition.

Sawdon Station co-owner Gavin (Snow) Loxton said winning the section came as a complete surprise after he entered the competition for the first time.

The Ewe Hogget Competition aims to find the country’s top hogget flock. Breed section finalists were announced earlier this week with the supreme champion announced on May 29.

His merino hoggets were in excellent condition when the judges visited his farm, which was due to his use of lupins as a forage crop. . .

Absolute ripper” 2013 wine vintage for Hawke’s Bay:

It’s confirmed! The excitement expressed as grapes of every variety were harvested throughout Hawke’s Bay last month, has burst into euphoria; pressed grapes now safely in barrels and casks are being touted as exceptional and 2013 as the ‘vintage of the century’ for Hawke’s Bay.

An informal survey of winemakers from Central Hawke’s Bay to Esk Valley, from the coast to the (almost) the ranges is unanimous. The flavours and colour of this season’s pressed grapes, both white and red, could not be better.

“It’s as exciting as everyone says,” was the verdict from Rod McDonald of Rod McDonald Wines, while Sacred Hill’s Tony Bish is particularly bullish and believes this year’s grapes will make the “greatest wine Hawke’s Bay has seen”. . .

Shorn merino sheep inspire wine brand:

The New Zealand branch of branding consultancy Interbrand has won its company’s global award for its Naked Sheep Wine design.

Its entry won the Global 2013 Interbrand Best Work Award for Craft, Packaging.

Interbrand NZ was tasked by boutique wine grower Ben Aubrey to develop a brand and packaging that reflected the heritage of the South Island Cairn Station vineyard on one of New Zealand’s oldest merino sheep stations. . .


Free trade is fair trade

April 14, 2013

Federated Farmers’ president Bruce Wills explains that everyone benefits from free trade:

. . . Trade has been good for China and it has been great for New Zealand.

This is not lost on the World Farmers Organisation, which will be discussing a potential breakthrough policy on international trade.

A strong and viable global agricultural sector is essential if the world’s population is to be assured of stable and secure supplies of food.

Farming globally is vital for employment, economic development and to ensure that our precious but finite land and water resources are looked after. 

Our hope is that the World Farmers Organisation will commit to ambitious trade policy objectives.

Farmers need a fair, transparent and predictable trading environment but international trade itself needs to be guided by some fundamental principles. Federated Farmers, having recently met with our Nepalese colleagues, knows full-well the special needs of the least developed countries have to be taken into account. 

The biggest problem farming runs into are trade barriers.

Through the TPP we have hope that for New Zealand at least, we can negotiate these barriers away.

Anything less would be a disastrous cop-out.

For developing farm systems, there are initiatives like “Aid for Trade,” which has seen over US$200 billion mobilised in funding since 2005; US$60 billion of that for the least-developed. This sounds impressive until you consider that over the same period of time, the United States and Europe have between them paid out some $500 billion in agricultural subsidies to their farmers.

The easiest solution is perhaps less ‘Aid for Trade’ but free trade.  These give emerging economies market access instead of blockages that creates the need for aid funding.

We know from first hand experience that trade is an important way of ensuring efficient resource use.

Trade helps to even out demand and supply helping to meet the world’s need for food. Providing farmers everywhere with increased market opportunities helps to improve incomes, prosperity and economic growth.

That benefits not only rural communities but all communities.

Subsidies and trade barriers are unfair to those who pay for them directly and those who have to compete unfairly because of them.

Free trade is fair trade, if trade isn’t free, it isn’t fair either.

 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2013

Planning: our rural romance mustn’t stop us building homes:

This evening many of us may find escape by watching the first of 42 hours of the BBC’s chronicle of 100 years of rural life, The Village, set in the lushly dramatic countryside of Edale and Hayfield in the Peak District.

A few of us – 165,095, in England and Wales, to be precise – might be doing so in the comfort of a second home, deep in the heart of Cornwall, perhaps, facing rolling green fields with not another dwelling in sight.

Yet, whatever the romantic view of our green and pleasant land, in fact and fiction, in our towns and cities, an all too real crisis of space and homes is already upon us.

As rents rise, mortgages are elusive and home ownership for increasing numbers of young people becomes a distant dream, the refusal to concede so much as an inch of greenfield terrain by organisations such as the National Trust appears less and less reasonable. . .

Focus on rural crime – Jill Galloway:

In a first, crime prevention advocate Crimestoppers is launching a campaign aimed at giving rural communities greater confidence to speak up about suspicious or criminal activity.

It is called “Shut the gate on rural crime”, and is supported by New Zealand rural insurer FMG and New Zealand Post.

Chief executive of Crimestoppers Jude Mannion said there were about 50 calls a day from all around New Zealand – urban and rural areas.

“Things like stock theft are now more professional and organised than they were. And in rural areas there are fewer people and that brings a problem of isolation.” . .

City docs ‘go rural’:

HEALTH Minister Lawrence Springborg’s plan to turn Beaudesert Hospital into a training facility for rural doctors has been given a positive prognosis from young city GPs keen on taking their much-needed medical skills bush.

The urban based doctors were recently at the South East Queensland medical facility for a ‘Go Rural Queensland – a day in the life of a rural doctor’ workshop run by Health Workforce Queensland.

While Beaudesert might only be a one-hour’s drive from Brisbane, the town’s medical services still operate in a rural context that would appear foreign to how services are delivered in the city, according to Health Workforce Queensland CEO Chris Mitchell. . .

Feed dispenser takes top award – Gerald Piddock:

A dispenser that provides dairy cattle with a daily dose of mineral supplements has taken top honours at the South Island Field Days innovation awards.

Called the Conedose, the machine dispenses molasses mixed with mineral supplements to cattle in the dairy shed.

It was designed by Southland-based company Winton Stock Feed and won the class one New Zealand-made farm machinery award at the South Island Field Days at Lincoln.

The Conedose dispensed non-soluble minerals, which other feeders could not do, Winton Stock Feed operations manager Paul Jackson said. . .

Mesh covers could beat TPP – Gerald Piddock:

A simple mesh cover could be the answer to halting one of the country’s most devastating tomato and potato pests.

The covers are being trialled at the Lincoln University Future Farming Centre to see if they stop the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) from invading the plants.

The results so far look extremely promising despite the trials being in their first season, centre head Charles Merfield says. . .

Beef, Lamb & Chelsea: A Recipe For Success:

In an exciting new partnership, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has today announced a partnership with Chelsea Winter, winner of Master Chef New Zealand 2012.

Winter’s recipes will be gracing butchery shelves and supermarket in abundance from this month.

Winter is joining the team as the face of mEAT magazine, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s free, quarterly guide to beef and lamb.

“This is a really exciting partnership and we have had so much fun developing fresh new recipes to complement the new-look mEAT magazine, which I am sure readers are going to love,” says Winter. . .

Richie Mccaw Visits Fonterra’s Sri Lanka Operations:

Fonterra’s global ambassador Richie McCaw has gained an up-close view of Fonterra in Sri Lanka last week during a two day tour of the Co-operative’s operations in the country.

McCaw said it was great to see first hand how Fonterra was growing its business in the region.

“It’s my first time in Sri Lanka and it made me realise how big Fonterra and Anchor are in the region. You drive through Colombo and see Anchor signs everywhere – it’s amazing that Sri Lankan kids are drinking the same milk that I grew up on in Canterbury.

“You sometimes forget that Fonterra’s got such a global reach. The kids and farmers that I met during the trip all told me that Fonterra and Anchor are a big part of their lives – not only because of the products Fonterra supplies but because the Co-op has become part of the community over the last 35 years,” said McCaw. . .

From here via Campaign for Wool we have tartan sheep:

One of our favourite April Fools Day hoaxes has to be the Tartan Sheep: The London Times ran a photo of "tartan sheep" said to have been bred by Grant Bell of West Barns, East Lothian. However, the Times warned, "Before you complain of being fleeced, check out the baa-code for today's date." http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/af_database/permalink/tartan_sheep


Rural round-up

March 19, 2013

Patchy rains helped some areas, others left dry, Landcorp’s Kelly says – Kristen Paterson:

Patchy rains have provided relief for some farming areas and left others without substantive moisture, says Chris Kelly, chief executive of state-owned Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest farmer.

The west of the North Island saw higher rainfall, with 15-40mm from Northland to Waitomo down through to Taranaki. The West Coast, which applied for drought status last week, received 20-40mm with more expected to come. The East Coast fared the worst, experiencing no substantial rains, MetService says. . .

Govt awards more than $4m to environmental projects:

A project that will use recycled potato starch to produce more than 17 million compostable packaging trays annually is among the successful recipients of more than $4 million in government funding.

Environment Minister Amy Adams today announced funding of more than $4 million to 11 innovative waste minimisation projects around New Zealand.

Earthpac receives $2.1 million for a project to manufacture compostable meat and vegetable trays. The trays are produced by capturing starch generated from washing potatoes. . .

DCANZ Cautiously Welcomes Japan To TPP:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) today cautiously welcomed Japan to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey said it is a significant achievement to have Japan enter into the TPP. However, at the same time he hopes that Japan’s entry won’t delay the conclusion of negotiations beyond the October 2013 timeline and that they will support the basic premise of TPP.

“We encourage Japan to uphold the commitment made by TPP leaders in Honolulu back in 2011, which was the comprehensive elimination of market access barriers like tariffs on traded goods,” Mr Bailey said. . .

NZ Pork Disappointed With Appeal Dismissal:

The New Zealand pork industry is very disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of its appeal regarding the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) proposed new Import Health Standard (IHS), Chairman Ian Carter said today.

“We are disappointed as we have concerns about the level of risk the new IHS constitutes.”

MPI welcomes judgment on pork imports

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is pleased with today’s Court of Appeal judgment which found that MPI followed the correct decision-making process before allowing imports of raw pork from countries where the disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is present.

At issue in this case was MPI’s response to an Independent Review Panel report and the process that led to the Director-General’s decision to issue four new import health standards for raw pork.

NZ Pork had alleged MPI did not follow the correct decision-making process.

“Agriculture is vitally important to our economy. In order to protect our primary producers from biosecurity risks, it is essential that we do the right thing when developing import health standards and that we base them on the best available science,” MPI Director-General Wayne McNee says.

NZPork appealed against the introduction of a new IHS relaxing the border standards for importing pig meat from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). . .

Hard yards pay dividends in Methven:

Matthew Bell is the latest Grand Finalist to be named for the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Matthew will be joining six other contestants at the Grand Final in Auckland 16-18 May.

“It’s still all sinking in…I’m over the moon!”, commented Matthew on his triumph on Saturday (16 March) in the Aorangi Regional Final at the Methven A&P Showgrounds and Heritage Centre.

Sam Bryan was runner up followed by Phil Campbell and Phil Wilson placing third and fourth respectively. . .


Rural round-up

December 21, 2012

Bruce Wills wants progress on water quality and end primary school taunts plus successful TPP outcome in 2013:

While some environmentalists point fingers at farmers as the sole reason for why water ‘isn’t what it used to be,’ I have never seen farmers treating water more seriously and with more respect than they do today.

As 2012 draws to a close there is no such thing as the ‘good old days’ when it comes to water use in town or country.

As the President of Federated Farmers, this got me thinking about the two things I would dearly want for Christmas and the New Year.

One is an end to the ‘farmer v. environmentalist’ stoush and the second is a trade liberalising Trans Pacific Partnership. . .

Dairy effluent to fish food project scaled up:

A Bay of Plenty regional council project which involves converting dairy effluent into fish food is being scaled up to farm trials.

The project is one of a number to receive a share of the council’s $30,000 Bright Idea Fund which is available for staff ideas that fall outside the normal scope of council work.

Rivers and Drainage manager Bruce Crabbe says batch trials show whitebait have successfully been raised on dairy effluent converted into a protein rich plankton.

Forestry workers urged to stay safe this summer

With a number of recent deaths in the forestry sector, workers, contractors and forest owners are being urged to make safety a priority this summer season.

The forestry sector has the highest rate of fatal work-related injuries in New Zealand and the rate of ACC claims for the forestry sector is almost six times the rate for all sectors.

“This is unacceptable – we need to do better when it comes to keeping our forestry workers safe,” says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s General Manager of Health and Safety Operations, Ona de Rooy. . .


Rural round-up

December 13, 2012

Agricultural producers and food processors call for full trade liberalisation through the Trans Pacific Partnership

Farmers and food processors from Australia, New Zealand and Canada are calling on Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries to conclude a 21st century trade agreement in 2013 that liberalises trade across all goods and services.

At the 15th round of TPP negotiations taking place in Auckland, New Zealand, agri-food groups from across the TPP region are meeting together and call for negotiators to uphold a high level of ambition in the trade talks. . .

TPP negotiations need to deliver for agriculture:

New Zealand’s red meat sector is encouraging all negotiating parties in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to work tirelessly to ensure this agreement can be completed by October 2013. Key outcomes from the completion of TPP must be the elimination of agricultural trade barriers and the opportunity for greater economic integration across the Asia Pacific region, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) say.

The B+LNZ and MIA chairmen, Mike Petersen and Bill Falconer (respectively) reinforced the need for reduced barriers to agricultural trade, including the elimination of tariffs and other technical barriers as a priority. Achieving that would create benefits and opportunities for all TPP members exporting red meat products. . .

$2.5 million for irrigation project a welcome potential boost for jobs and the environment

The government’s announcement that it is funding half of the $2.5 million Wairarapa Water Use Project to investigate the feasibility of developing water storage, alongside the Greater Wellington Regional Council, is warmly welcomed by Federated Farmers.

“Water is the lifeblood of farming, which is why Federated Farmers welcomes Primary Industries Minister David Carter’s announcement this morning that the government will add this funding from the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) to look at the feasibility of this project,” says Federated Farmers water spokesperson Ian Mackenzie.

“This announcement means Wairarapa is potentially a huge step closer to securing a brighter economic future for its farmers and everyone else in the region. . . .

New Zealand Winegrowers explores the science of Sauvignon blanc

New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has commissioned UK wine writer Jamie Goode to publish The Science of Sauvignon blanc. The book is based on the results of a six year multidisciplinary research initiative that explores the key aroma and flavour compounds in Sauvignon blanc wine and how they relate to viticulture and winemaking.

“In our research programme we wanted to understand the unique characters of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc” says Dr Simon Hooker, General Manager Research at New Zealand Winegrowers. “What are its sensory attributes? Can they be linked back to viticultural management? Are they generated in the vineyard, through winemaking processes or by the yeasts? This book presents an overview to these questions in a very user friendly way that has given the industry new tools for driving flavour”. . .

Rapaura Springs Judged No2 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

The Rapaura Springs 2012 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc has been named one of the two best Sauvignon Blancs in the country by Cuisine Magazine’s judging panel.

Owner Brendan Neylon says achieving number two rank, as well as a five star accolade, denoting “outstanding quality” in a wine, is an excellent result from such a prestigious tasting, and perfectly timed for Christmas. . .


TPP – threat or opportunity?

December 9, 2012

Is the TPP a threat to democracy?:

Almost three quarters of a million people around the world have signed an online petition that brands the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement a “threat to democracy” and a “corporate takeover”. . . .

“Many hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have sent a blunt message to politicians and corporations who tout the TPPA as a model for the 21st century that it does not represent not their 21st century”, said Jane Kelsey, who has been asked to present the petition to the negotiators. . .

Or is it of seminal importance for jobs?:

The Trans Pacific Partnership is of seminal importance for developing job opportunities in New Zealand, says Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association.

But alongside our ongoing struggle to win access for our agricultural products we need a completely separate work stream dealing with intellectual property, Mr Campbell said.

“It is evident that in terms of the TPP, intellectual property is a complicated rat’s nest full of ambiguity and vested interests,” he said.

“Well-resourced groups have the capacity to subvert the TPP process if we are not most careful to ensure it is robust and enduring.

“Hence the need for caution and precision over the agreement’s terms and conditions.

“New Zealand business will be paying close attention to the details of this part of the agreement because tomorrow’s globally integrated business world will be driven by intellectual property.

“And we are 100 per cent committed to New Zealand negotiating a high quality TPP agreement for the job opportunities and economic growth prospects it can undoubtedly deliver.”

Business NZ sees the importance of the TPP for people:

The Trans Pacific Partnership will help build more successful communities, says BusinessNZ.

Speaking at the Trans Pacific Partnership Forum in Auckland today, BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said the TPP has the potential to raise living standards around New Zealand.

“This trade agreement goes beyond the 20th Century approach of simply seeking to reduce tariffs and border restrictions.

“It recognises the fact that industry now relies on complex supply and value chains involving producers in many different locations and countries. New Zealand is deeply involved in many international value chains and the TPP will enable more New Zealand businesses to trade more effectively in more countries, and that means increased growth and more jobs for New Zealanders.

“The particular value of the Trans Pacific Partnership is that it involves many of the fastest growing economies on earth. Economic growth in the Asia Pacific region is surging and the TPP will help unlock that growth for New Zealand’s benefit.

“It’s appropriate that New Zealand’s negotiators are focused on protecting and advancing our interests including public health, intellectual property, the environment, and the Treaty of Waitangi, and success in these areas will mean a high-quality trade deal that is sustainable in the long term,” Mr O’Reilly said. . .

Both sides of this argument are right about the need for caution over some of the details.

But one side is anti-trade in general and using that bias to oppose the TPP in its entirety.

The other realises the importance of trade for maintaining and creating work opportunities here and earning the export income which will support the first world economy and society to which we aspire.


Rural round-up

December 5, 2012

TPP: Australia and New Zealand Agricultural Bodies Call For Action On Trade:

The peak agricultural bodies of New Zealand and Australia have united in calling for a truly comprehensive and generally liberalising Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement from day one of implementation.

Federated Farmers of New Zealand and the National Farmers’ Federation of Australia are both participating in the TPP negotiations, currently taking place in Auckland.

“Liberalisation must result in the elimination of all agricultural and food product tariffs and reform non-tariff measures,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand. . .

NZ commodity prices post fourth month of gains, rising 1%:

New Zealand commodity prices rose for a fourth straight month in November, led by pelts, beef and wood pulp. Lamb prices fell to a 31-month low.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index rose 1 percent last month with 10 commodity prices gaining, four declining and three unchanged.

A firmer New Zealand dollar meant the gain in the ANZ NZD Commodity price Index was a slightly lower 0.9 percent. . .

Biological agriculture ‘joins the dots’ for farmers wanting more:

Listening to world renowned expert Arden Andersen talk on biological growing practices has helped many New Zealand farmers and growers “join the dots” to discover ways to grow healthier produce as well as improving their bottom lines.

American Dr Andersen will be back in New Zealand early in the New Year on a four-course speaking tour; two focusing on soils being held in Ashburton and Taupo, and two on human health in Havelock North and Auckland.

For John Kamp, a sheep, beef and dairy farmer in Mangleton, Hawke’s Bay, says attending the soils course not once but twice, has helped him totally change his farming approach for the 700 hectares he has direct control over. As a syndicate shareholder he has also influenced three South Island dairy farms to become biologically managed. . .

Delegat’s sees small lift in annual earnings, warns on strong currency:

Delegat’s Group is flagging a small increase in annual earnings for 2013, though it’s warning that the strong kiwi dollar is making life hard for the wine-maker.

The company forecasts operating profit of $27 million in the 12 months ending June 30, 2013, managing director Jim Delegat told shareholders in Auckland. That’s a 6 percent lift in earnings from 2012. The winemaker sees a 6 percent sales growth in 2013 to 1.97 million cases expected to sell at $119.10 a case.

“The group continues to actively manage its currency exposure, however currency movements have the potential to impact on earnings,” Delegat said. “With strong and sustainable competitive advantages in brands, distribution, supply and quality, the group is well-positioned to achieve its sales forecasts in the years ahead.” . . .

Agricultural R&D – a fantastic legacy and a means to move forward – Pasture Harmonies:

New Zealand, and its agriculture (systems) owes a heck of a lot to the billions of dollars poured into its research and development over the past 120 years.

Our wealth has, literally, been built on sunshine, soil and fresh air – and more importantly applied brains figuring out how to convert pastoral production into protein. (Actually, and to be fair, it is sunshine, soil and water – but that doesn’t work quite as well from a poetic or story POV).

For nearly a century, the ever refined pastoral method (essentially graze pasture, rest it, graze, rest…) has evolved to a quite elegant recipe. . .

Synlait posts $6.3M maiden profit, likely to seek more capital:

Powdered dairy products exporter Synlait Milk has turned in a maiden profit of $6.3 million for the year to July 31 and expects to seek fresh capital from its two shareholders as it pursues “further strongly profitable opportunities.”

The Dunsandel-based processor added a further 20 supplier farms during the year and processed a total of 498 million litres of milk in the year, compared with 343 million litres the year before, after adding a third drying unit, allowing it to manufacture higher-value nutritional products.

After failing to attract New Zealand investors to a $150 million initial public offering in 2009, Synlait Milk is now 51 percent-owned by the Chinese firm Bright Dairy, with the remainder held by Synlait Ltd, a vehicle representing the company’s founders. . .

Nominations close 16 December for top dairying woman award:

Women working in the dairy industry are being urged to get their nominations in for the 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year award, which closes for entry on 16 December 2012.

Sponsored by Fonterra, the prestigious award includes the chance to attend the year-long Women in Leadership course run by Global Women, worth $25,000.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Sarah Speight said the Dairy Woman of the Year award celebrates and advances women who are making a real difference in the dairy industry, in their dairying businesses and in their communities. . .

And from the Nutters Club:
Genius


Protest or progress

December 4, 2012

Quite how people who think they care about the poor can protest against free trade escapes me, but there they were outside the venue for the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

. . . protesters say these negotiations are too secretive and are being driven by large US corporations.

As the talks at Sky City began this morning, protesters made themselves heard outside. . .

However, there is another view:

. . . the Government says a deal could be a billion-dollar boost for our economy.

“It’s going to be big,” says Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser. “It’s going to be significant and it’s going to help New Zealanders find well-paid jobs.”

That view is shared by the people who will provide some of those jobs:

More than 50 business leaders from some of New Zealand’s largest and most successful companies and business organisations have expressed their support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations currently underway between eleven APEC economies.

In an open letter to Prime Minister John Key, the business leaders underlined the importance of international trade and investment for New Zealand. “The signatories to the open letter represent a cross section across all major export sectors in New Zealand, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, horticulture, wine, manufacturing, technology and Maori business. Together they either directly employ, or their members employ, an enormous number of Kiwis,” said Chairman of the New Zealand International Business Forum, Sir Graeme Harrison.

“These business leaders welcome the TPP round taking place in Auckland this week and commend negotiators from the TPP economies for their efforts to conclude a future agreement which should bring benefits for all member economies”.

 “The group is aware the negotiation poses challenges for New Zealand policy settings in a number of areas and that the negotiation is complex. We have confidence that Trade Minister Tim Groser and his officials will seek solutions that meet New Zealand’s national interests.”

“We see great advantages for New Zealand arising from a future agreement that is high quality, comprehensive and ambitious, one that eliminates trade barriers, lowers the cost of doing business and makes improvements to the way regional supply chains can link producers and consumers in the region.” The open letter coincides with the launch of a new business-led initiative, Trade Works, a website (www.tradeworks.org.nz) to help Kiwis better understand the benefits of trade and investment for New Zealand, and understand the potential benefits of TPP. Funding for the website has been provided by the NZ US Council and the website has been built with the support of thirteen business organisations representing the main export sectors.

“The Council and its partners see value from an effort to create a TPP which meets business and wider needs and reflects the way business is being done today and will be done in the future. This will assist economic growth and job creation in New Zealand. Our new website signals that we are also ready to participate with other members of civil society in a dialogue about how TPP can contribute to what it is best for New Zealand,” said Chairman of the NZ US Council, Rt Hon James Bolger.

The protesters want to take us back to the bad old days when inefficient producers were protected and everyone else paid more because of that.

The business people want progress and fair trade and the only way to get that is to have free trade.


Strange economics from new party

October 30, 2012

New Zealand has another political party – the New Economics Party.

. . . Our philosophy is that Earth is for sharing, so owners of private land and its resources must pay an annual rent to the public for the privilege, instead of having their earned income confiscated by government. . .

Our solutions will go a long way to tackling resource depletion, climate change, environmental damage, unemployment and poverty, while at the same time unleashing the human creativity and entrepreneurial spirit required to meet the big challenges ahead.

We will change the way money is created. The current interest-bearing debt money system drives the world-devouring engine of perpetual growth, transfers wealth from the poor to the rich and causes growing debt, instability and environmental harm. The profit making bank createdimoney (sic) system we live with is a monoculture that causes people to behave competitively in a dog-eat-dog world. We want multiple currencies co-existing. Until we change the money system we change nothing. Change it and you help all of the above including climate change. . .

That sounds like strange economics to me.

The party’s first campaign is going to be against the Trans Pacific Partnership:

The fledgling New Economics Party co-founded by Otaki woman Deirdre Kent has decided that its first campaign is to help fight the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

“We came to the conclusion on Sunday that almost all the policy we have on our books will be illegal if the TPPA is signed,” said Deirdre Kent. “Under the TPPA a government doing what we recommend would be sued for millions of dollars by multinational companies.”

“It looks as though foreign banks, insurance companies and money traders are to be given more powers to challenge laws designed to prevent another financial crisis. There will probably be no possibility of capital controls and no chance to bring in the domestic-only land-backed New Zealand currency we are working on”, she said. . .

Goodness knows where they get that interpretation of the TPP from.

The TPP as it stands isn’t perfect which is why it’s up for negotiation rather than being a fait accompli.

But if negotiations are successful it will open borders to the benefit of consumers and producers.

The people with the most to gain from that are the poor who face fewer choices and are less able to pay higher prices which result from protectionism and import restrictions.

 

 

 


US dairy offer not up to scratch – Groser

June 7, 2012

Trade Minister Tim Groser says the USA is yet to produce an acceptable offer on dairy access in Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks.

Despite two years of formal negotiations, he says, the US is yet to produce anything of substance on the dairy market, the biggest prize for New Zealand in the TPP.

“We are not going to sign up to a deal that doesn’t improve the export position of our principal exports,” he says. “We will wait and play our cards in the endgame.”

The USA dairy lobby must have strength far in excess of its numbers to keep negotiations stalling on the issue of access for our produce.

Any benefit to the relatively small number of them from protection comes at the cost of higher prices and less choice for many millions of consumers.


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