Annual General Meeting
Wellington, 30 November 2017
I am pleased to present my second report on the activities and achievements of the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) for 2016-17. This is the tenth year of operations of NZIBF, which was established in June 2007. Our continuing mandate is evidence both of the importance of the issues on which we work and the value we can create for our members.
At the outset I would like to congratulate the incoming Government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and to welcome Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker to his new role. I must also express thanks to former Prime Minister Bill English and former Trade Minister Todd McClay for past co-operation and their work to expand New Zealand’s trade interests. NZIBF was pleased to welcome the former Government’s revised trade strategy and hopes that elements of this will continue, particularly the focus on new and upgraded FTAs, actions to address non-tariff barriers and the reinstated Ministerial Advisory Group in which NZIBF is well represented.
During the past year we have continued to follow the ups and downs of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The United States’ departure from the agreement was extremely disappointing and NZIBF members remain deeply concerned about aspects of the US Administration’s trade policy. Thanks to the efforts of New Zealand, Japan and Australia, TPP was able to be salvaged by the remaining eleven members and NZIBF is delighted with the announcement from the APEC meeting in DaNang that agreement has been reached on core elements of a ‘comprehensive and progressive’ version of TPP.
NZIBF has also followed closely other trade negotiations underway or in prospect, including the upgrade of the FTA with China, continuing efforts to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), steps towards a future FTA with the European Union and the welcome announcement of negotiations with the Pacific Alliance. We have continued to take interest in the development of New Zealand’s economic relationship with Japan and are hopeful that TPP will restore New Zealand’s competitive position in that market where our competitors Australia and Chile now enjoy superior market access. We remain interested in future opportunities in post-Brexit Britain.
NZIBF has been active in leading business advocacy for all these major trade negotiations, through submissions, contact with officials and media and public commentary. Through our Tradeworks website and linked social media platforms we have continued to make the case for trade to the public at large. Our campaign was significantly expanded during the year with regular blogs on topical trade issues by NZIBF executives as well as guests, and videos featuring NZIBF members and member companies. Our views continue to be well carried by the media in New Zealand and on occasion overseas.
As we have for a number of years now, NZIBF provides policy advice to the three New Zealand members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). ABAC meets four times a year to develop its advice to APEC Economic Leaders. We thank the ABAC Members for the efforts on behalf of New Zealand business. We acknowledge in particular the work of Tony Nowell, who stepped down from ABAC this year. We appreciate the work undertaken by ABAC on TPP and other regional trade initiatives, NTBs, services trade, supply chain connectivity and other issues.
The NZIBF Board met four times last year and I should like to thank my fellow Board members for their continuing support. We have been pleased to welcome Philip Gregan, Chief Executive of NZ Winegrowers to full membership and are delighted that another important export sector is represented around our table. We thank also our associate members for their continuing engagement and support. We have continued to provide funding and directors to the Boards of the NZ China Council and the NZ US Council as a means of aligning our efforts in these key markets.
We are pleased to acknowledge the continuing support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other senior officials as well as diplomatic missions in Wellington. NZIBF continues to be well served by a highly experienced team of trade professionals in Stephen Jacobi, Fiona Cooper Clarke and Stephanie Honey, whose commitment and expertise make a real difference in our engagement on key issues.
The value of NZIBF is to be found in the people we have around the table and the ideas we can generate to further New Zealand’s trade growth. NZIBF is unique in that we bring together a range of economic interests and key players who do not come together in any other forum. Over the last ten years we have developed a strong platform for strategic thinking, advocacy and communications and we look forward to continuing this work in the next period.