Bay News column

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I have recently returned from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in the Philippines in my capacity as Minister of Transport and Minister of Energy and Resources. These meetings promote economic cooperation and opportunities between the 21 members and are about finding ways we can work together for everyone’s benefit.

A lot of the discussions were around the emerging trends in the transportation sector and how we will respond to the opportunities and challenges this will bring. Technological advances such as autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), as well as innovations in the ‘sharing economy’ (think Uber), are rapidly changing traditional business models and how people get around. Governments have to be prepared to respond to this and adapt to these changes.

I also took the opportunity to encourage my Ministerial counterparts from other countries to join New Zealand in leading the way on fossil-fuel subsidy reform, which will contribute to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the themes of the conference was “Building Inclusive Economies”, which seemed particularly appropriate given the recent successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The TPP is expected be worth at least $2.7 billion a year to New Zealand by 2030. The $259 million a year exporters will save in tariffs is money that can be spent on growing their business, hiring more people and paying higher wages.

Many of the claims made by opponents of the TPP are not reflected in the final agreement. We have not given up our right to govern our own country and New Zealanders will not pay more for subsidised medicines. As with all previous free trade agreements, the TPP will go through the Parliamentary processes before coming into effect.