Emerging trade agreements

Stephen spoke to the Primary Industry Summit in Wellington on 25 May.  Read his speech here.

I’d like to start today by asking the question – why do we seek negotiate trade agreements in the first place, especially when they seem so hard to I’ll then give you a sense of where I, as business observer, think some of the more current FTA negotiations are up to.

I’d also like to venture some thoughts about what all this might mean for the primary industries.

The case for trade

Stephen addresses the Nelson branch of the NZ Institute of International Affairs here.

I’m here to make the case for trade but in some respects there is no need to make such a case here in Nelson.

This region lives by its exports of seafood, wood, horticulture, wine, meat and dairy products.

Can there really be any debate about trade in a place like this?

Is there still hope for TPP?

Stephen assesses the prospects for the Trans Pacific Partnership in 2015 here.

The big question for trade policy watchers as we start a new year is whether the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations might be concluded.  Last year I thought negotiations could be concluded by April.  I was wrong.  This year I can make no such prediction, save one – if TPP is not finished soon, we may need to move on to something else.

 

 

APEC in Beijing – let a thousand flowers bloom

Read Stephen’s latest commentary on the outlook for the November APEC Summit  here

The 23 New Zealand business leaders attending the APEC event might well say “let a thousand flowers bloom” – with a foot in TPP and RCEP and a strong relationship with China and our trade-thumping FTA New Zealand is well placed to benefit from whatever emerges in Beijing.

 

A hitch hiker’s guide to trade agreements

Read Stephen’s presentation to U3A in Wellington in which he outlines the background to New Zealand’s trade with the rest of the world, the Government’s approach to trade policy and the state of the TPP negotiations.

Negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership – implications for governance

Read Stephen’s presentation to the Association of Chartered Secretaries of New Zealand.  Stephen explains the background to TPP, outlines some of the issues involved and considers the implications for those holding governance roles in business.

TPP grinds inexorably on

It ain’t over, till it’s over, writes Stephen in his latest commentary on TPP published by NBR On Line.

Reports of the imminent demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are greatly exaggerated.  While some momentum has certainly been lost in recent months, TPP is still very much a “live” negotiation and economies are re-engaging in a flurry of bilateral consultations in advance of another Lead Negotiators’ gathering in July.

Read the full comment here.

TPP and the primary industries

Mention of TPP causes different reactions - fear and loathing in some quarters, unbridled optimism in others.

Today we meet against the backdrop of the most recent gathering of TPP Trade Ministers in Singapore.

In a pattern that has been repeated several times in recent years, Ministers declared themselves to have made great progress but without announcing an end to the negotiations.

Today I’d like to provide some further background on TPP and its significance for the primary industries.

Read Stephen’s address to the Primary Industry Summit here

The next generation of FTAs – what does business want?

While in Qingdao , China, for the APEC Senior Officials’ meeting Stephen spoke to a workshop focused on sharing information between free trade agreements in operation in the Asia Pacific region.  He outlined what business wants to see from FTAs and what the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) wants governments to do at this point to develop the next generation of agreements:

“Next generation issues can be new approaches to old issues as much as new issues not previously thought of. Next generation issues are rather more likely to be found behind the border than at the border. And so more than ever before we need to devise robust processes to address non-tariff barriers and other “behind the border” issues. We need to develop greater coherence in rule making around the region and co-ordinate – to the greatest extent possible our approach to issues like investment, innovation and competition.We need to develop a stronger focus on services trade issues recognizing the by growing share of services trade in global commerce.We need to continue to work on the digital economy and try to incorporate new disciplines relevant to the way business is being done today, including permanent duty free access for digital products.”

Read Stephen’s full address here.

 

Preparing for FTA negotiations

On 6-10 May Stephen was in Qingdao, China, attending meetings of APEC Senior Officials. On 6 May he addressed a workshop aimed at helping APEC economies to prepare for FTA negotiations.  He spoke about the importance of consulting with the business community:

“More than ever before trade policy is becoming intrinsically linked with domestic economic policy as the implications of trade agreements reach far deeper into domestic policy settings particularly in terms of policies related to foreign investment, innovation and competition.

As the negotiating agenda has become more sophisticated, trade negotiators have been obliged to consult more fully with public stakeholders, especially business, and to interact more frequently with domestic agencies for advice as they confront a range of policy issues with which they are not accustomed.

In this context the need for a properly informed basis on which to make policy decisions for translation into trade and economic agreements is critical.”

Read Stephen’s full remarks here.