FTAs slow but vital progress to prosperity


The announcement of a free trade agreement with Malaysia, our eighth biggest trading partner, is welcome news.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“Between 2004 and 2008 New Zealand’s goods exports to Malaysia grew by more than 80 per cent – double the rate for New Zealand’s export growth to the world over the same period.”

If we can achieve that without an FTA, the opportunities with one will be even better.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said:

“Malaysia’s large and growing population of more than 28 million people presents considerable opportunity for new and enhanced market access for New Zealand’s exporters, including in education, environmental, management consulting and veterinary services.

Fran O’Sullivan highlights the opportnuities for dairy prodcue too.

But it’s not just about goods and services, it’s also about attitude.

For generations we looked to the other side of the world, to Britain, and sent most of our produce there.

Now we are looking to markets closer to home. This is not just about trade, it signals a change in culture and a growing recognition of the importance of the Asia Pacific region.

September 16 in history


On September 16:

1905 The first fully representative New Zealand rugby team started a tour of Britain. The Originals  popularised the haka and the All Black name.

1908 General Motors was formed.

1923 Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Minister Mentor, was born.


1924 USA actor Lauren Bacall was born.

1925 Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey was born.

1943 Bernie Calvert, musician with The Hollies, was born.

1948 Kenney Jones, founding member of Small Faces and drumemr for The Who, was born.

(left to right) Marriott, Lane, Winston, JONES

1955 Juan Perón  was deposed as President in Argentina.

1956 USA illusionist David Copperfield was born.

1963 Malaysia was formed from Malaya, Singapore and British North Borneo (sabah) and Sarawak.

1975 Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia.

1987 The Montreal Protocol was signed to protect the ozone layer from depletion.

The largest Antarctic ozone hole recorded as of September 2006.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

ASEAN FTA opens market of 500m


Trade Minister Tim Groser has signed a Free Trade Agreement with 10 Asian nations.

They are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia and these 10 members of ASEAN – Association of South East Asian Nations – have a total population of more than 500 million which is a big market for New Zealand produce.

While applauding this I do wonder about the time, effort and expense involved in these sorts of agreements when the greater good would be better served by world-wide free trade.

Given the slow progress of the WTO I realise that it’s important to keep working on these smaller deals which may well be stepping stones to the big goal of full free and fair trade.

That will only come when all the protectionist barriers are dismantled so all countries open their borders to allow trade with all other countries. If there’s a silver lining to the GFC it might just be that more countries find they can no longer afford subsidies and other anti-competitive measures.

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