Get in behind trade

Export New Zealand is challenging all political parties to get in behind trade:

ExportNZ says all political parties should be supporting international trade.

ExportNZ today released a report analysing the benefits to all New Zealanders from freely traded exports and imports. The Benefits of Trade shows that New Zealand’s export sector directly and indirectly accounts for nearly three quarters of a million jobs, and that exports bring in 43 percent of New Zealand’s GDP.

“This is a massive chunk of our economy. Without exports we would literally be a third world economy,” said ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard.

“New Zealand exporters – manufacturers, primary producers and technology and services exporters – earn the foreign exchange that pays for all the good things we enjoy. Without a vibrant export sector, we would not be able to afford the infrastructure, health, education and welfare services that are the mark of a first world nation.

Exports enable us to pay our way in the world.

We can’t afford imports unless we successfully export.

It’s not just luxury goods but basic requirements for first world living standards including health supplies, machinery and the food we can’t grow ourselves that we need to buy from other countries.

The money to buy those goods come from our exports and the freer we are to trade the better off we all are.

“We have a brilliant export sector keeping our economy afloat, and we should all be supporting it.”

Catherine Beard said with the approach of the 2017 Election, it was important to hear from all political parties on how they would support trade and free trade agreements with other nations.

“It’s time for all political parties that want a higher standard of living for Kiwis to get in behind New Zealand being a participant in high quality free trade agreements wherever in the world we can get them.

Catherine Beard says in a world of increasing protectionism it is important for all political parties to be united behind an ambitious free trade agenda, because the benefits to New Zealand are overwhelmingly positive.

“The data indicates that in a world where free trade was the norm, New Zealand’s GDP would be $18 billion higher, with an additional 62,000 jobs.”

Key points on the benefit of trade:

 The tradable sector directly and indirectly accounts for $85 billion (43%) of New Zealand’s real
GDP and almost three-quarters of a million jobs.
 Trade helps Kiwi households buy higher quantities of goods and services with their wages, and
lets them access a wider variety of products.
 The gains to New Zealand households from improved product choice from trade alone come
to $3.9 billion, or around $2,300 per household, based on estimates from the literature.
 One US study estimates that trade contributes about 30% of an average US household’s
purchasing power. In New Zealand this share would be far higher, given how trade-reliant we
are compared to the US.
 When tariffs were removed in the late 1980s in New Zealand, import prices dropped sharply,
boosting Kiwi households’ purchasing power by 2%.
 Further multilateral trade liberalisation would deliver huge benefits to New Zealand: the OECD
estimates that New Zealand’s real GDP would increase by $18 billion over the long run if G20
tariffs and non-tariff barriers were halved. This scenario would also create over 42,000 skilled
jobs and 20,000 low-skilled jobs.
 ‘Trade policy’ is now about much more than reducing border tariffs on trade in goods:
services, investment, global value chains, non-tariff measures, people movements and the
flow of technology are hugely important.
 Global services trade liberalisation has been estimated to potentially lift New Zealand’s per
capita GDP by over $1,000 by 2020.
 A comprehensive Trade Facilitation Agreement which reduces red tape associated with trade
could reduce trade costs by 14.5% globally and boost global GDP by between US$345 billion
and US$555 billion per year.
 The reduction of non-tariff measures could deliver significant gains for New Zealand. The cost
to New Zealand exporters of these measures in the APEC region has been estimated at $8.4
billion.
 Around 70% of the economic benefits accruing to New Zealand from the TPP are estimated to
come from a reduction in non-tariff barriers.
 There are some valid concerns about how the benefits from globalisation are shared, but its
positive impacts are undeniable: the World Bank states “The number of people living in
extreme poverty around the world has fallen by around one billion since 1990. Without the
growing participation of developing countries in international trade, and sustained efforts to
lower barriers to the integration of markets, it is hard to see how this reduction could have
been achieved”.
 Addressing New Zealanders’ concerns about globalisation and the future of regional economic
integration in will require more detailed research into the benefits and trade-offs involved in
‘new’ trade issues, and continued reminders about the costs to households of more
isolationist policy settings.

Anyone old enough to remember what life was like in New Zealand before the trade liberalisation of the 1980s and 90s won’t want to go back there.

Domestic goods were usually more expensive and of inferior quality to imports.

Imported goods were in short supply and usually had inflated prices owing to tariffs.

People didn’t travel as easily or often as they do now and when they did they returned laden down with goods which were not available or far more expensive here.

Any policies which limit trading opportunities for exporters or hamper the ready access to imports will hurt us all, and the people who will be hardest hit will be the poor.

With freer trade we all benefit and can even sell avocados to Mexico.

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