Why do we need free trade?

New Zealand has always been a nation of traders, but we need a level playing field to compete in competitive world markets. Trade agreements set the rules of the game that allow us to compete. They stop big countries pushing around little countries. Our free trade agreements with countries like Australia, China, ASEAN and Taiwan are helping us to earn millions of dollars for our economy and to create jobs.

That's important, why?

Free trade gives consumers more choice and a broader range of goods and services to choose from. Free trade has helped make possible the lifestyles we have become accustomed to. It has helped diversify and deepen our economy. But more than this, the links we develop through trade and investment with other countries support people to people connections. They give us a richer and more diverse society.

What about jobs?

As a country we desparately need to grow the economy and grow employment. More trade means more jobs. We can't prosper by selling to ourselves, we can't eat all we produce and we can't produce all we need. Research shows two out of three jobs in New Zealand depend in some way on trade and investment.

How else can free trade help us?

Free trade agreements don't just set fairer rules for the flow of goods and services, they also deal with the flow of capital. Companies need capital to grow. Export income, capital inflows through foreign direct investment and the remittance of dividends from New Zealand's offshore investments – these are what plug the gap in domestic spending and government deficits. They create jobs, they help us pay for our hospitals, our world class education and to build better infrastructure.