Weekend Sun column

Friday, November 6, 2015

Last week I attended the launch of the Bay of Plenty Regional Economic Action Plan, a set of key initiatives designed to grow the region’s economy. Many of the opportunities identified for investment and growth rely on trading with overseas markets, such as forestry and horticulture. Trade is vital for creating more jobs and delivering higher incomes - for the Bay of Plenty region and New Zealand as a whole.

The Government has made significant progress on several trade deals which will unlock a wide range of opportunities for our country. Earlier this year the Korea Free Trade Agreement was signed and passed through Parliament, and just a few weeks after finalising the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) the Prime Minister and European Union (EU) leaders have announced that negotiations will begin on an EU-NZ free trade agreement.

A free trade deal with the EU could bring significant benefits to New Zealand. The EU countries have around NZ$20 trillion worth of GDP and is home to a number of markets that already value our high-quality export products.

As well as opening up restrictive markets, free trade agreements reduce the cost of exporting our goods. The agreement with Korea will save New Zealand exporters $65 million in the first year alone and largely eliminate the $229 million our exporters pay a year in duties.

Figures show that the TPP and the free trade deal with Korea together are worth $14,000 to every kiwifruit grower alone in New Zealand. This is money that can be spent investing in growing their businesses, hiring more staff and paying higher wages.

This is why improving access to international markets is a key component of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. National is committed to keeping up the momentum on trade as part of our plan to build a more competitive and productive economy.