When National promoted the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, Labour, New Zealand First, the Green Party and their followers were vehement in their opposition.
When Labour added a couple of words and made it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Trade most MPs who had been so strongly against the TPP were just as strong in their support of the CPTTP and there was hardly a whisper against it outside parliament.
The Labour government has just signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with 10 countries from the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus Australia, China, Japan and South Korea.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFaT) says this anchors New Zealand in a region that is the engine room of the global economy.
The 15 RCEP economies are home to almost a third of the world’s population, include 7 of our top 10 trading partners, take over half New Zealand’s total exports and provide more than half our direct foreign investment.
RCEP deepens our trade and economic connections in the Asia-Pacific region, an important part of New Zealand’s Trade Recovery Strategy. The agreement will help ensure New Zealand is in the best possible position to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and seize new opportunities for exports and investment. RCEP is projected to add $186 billion to the world economy and increase New Zealand’s GDP by around $2.0 billion. . .
New Zealand is too small to benefit much from bilateral trade agreements and has a lot to gain from multi-country deals like this one.
The government has done the right thing in concluding the work started under National but could be called hypocritical after the vehemence of its criticism of the TPPP.
And while some call Federated Farmers right wing and accuse it of being National in gumboots, it has given the agreement the thumbs up:
The prospect of reduced red tape from a single set of trade rules for the Asia Pacific is a major reason why New Zealand producers and exporters will give the RCEP deal the thumbs up, Federated Farmers says.
“Anything that takes us further along the path of ironing out border costs and delays, and reducing protectionist tariffs, for our exports has to be a good thing for farmers, and for New Zealand, Feds President Andrew Hoggard said.
A degree of scepticism has been voiced about how quickly our GDP would be boosted by the estimated $2 billion a year from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement signed at the weekend, given we already have free trade agreements in one form or another with all of the 14 other signatory nations. But new opportunities should eventually flow.
“This is now the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering nations with nearly one third of the world’s population. It includes clear mechanisms to us to address any non-tariff barriers put up against our exported goods by the other signatories,” Hoggard said.
RCEP delivers additional tariff elimination on a number of New Zealand food products into Indonesia, including sheepmeat, beef, fish and fish products, liquid milk, grated or powdered cheese, honey, avocados, tomatoes and persimmons.
The Green Party is the only one in parliament opposing the new agreement. Opposition from outside parliament has been muted and it’s not just on trade where the left is less vocal on issues than it was a few years ago.
When National was in power stories of homeless people and their plight were regularly featured in the news. Politicians and other groups on the left were happy to be quoted criticising the government and demanding action.
Homelessness and overcrowding are still be a major problem and, given the escalating price of houses, a growing one. But the stories of people living in cars and other suboptimal accommodation aren’t nearly as frequent.
What’s changed? Just the government.
Could it be that the people who advocate so loudly for the vulnerable when National is in power let their own partisan attachments get in the way of their political agitation when Labour is ruling?