NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS FORUM
REMARKS AT RECEPTION FOLLOWING AGM , WELLINGTON, 26 NOVEMBER 2018
MALCOLM BAILEY, CHAIRMAN
Thanks Stephen and may I add my welcome to all our guests joining us this evening, especially to the Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Wellington.
We appreciate very much the working relationship we have with you and indeed with all in this room.
We have just completed our eleventh Annual General Meeting.
As I observed in my annual report, judging by the current state of the international trading system, our work is needed now more than ever!
For more than a decade it has been our job to represent the interests of NZ’s international business sector and to co-operate with our Government to open new markets and put in place better trade rules.
Sometimes it can seem as if that job never ends, so it is right to celebrate the progress that has been made.
Clearly, we are delighted that CPTPP will soon enter into force and I want to place on record our deep appreciation to our hard-working trade negotiators whose long-term commitment to this new ambitious, high quality and comprehensive agreement has finally paid off.
NZIBF Members have supported CPTPP from day one – we perhaps more than any other group have been prepared to stand up to defend the negotiation in the public square, always drawing the attention to the needs of our exporters and to expertise of our negotiators to advance and defend NZ interests.
We wanted CPTPP not because some textbook told us we should, but because it would deliver value to New Zealand.
So, we welcome the opportunity CPTPP will give to transform our relations with economic partners like Japan and Mexico whose Ambassadors are with us tonight.
We look forward to others joining CPTPP in the years to come.
We also continue to follow closely our continuing negotiations with the European Union, with China to upgrade our highly successful FTA and with the members of the Pacific Alliance.
We have worked through the East Asia Business Council to support and enhance the ambition of the RCEP negotiations, where the pace now needs to be accelerated.
Earlier today we meet with the British High Commissioner to discuss progress towards a future NZ/UK FTA and in the coming week we will make available a discussion paper we have prepared based on discussions with a range of exporters about NZ interests in that negotiation.
If there is any good to come out of the current trade tensions, it is that attention is being focused back on the World Trade Organisation as the critical underpinning of the international trade system.
We may have been guilty in overlooking the importance of the WTO in recent years as the pace to negotiate other agreements has intensified but for a small, open and outward-looking economy like New Zealand, WTO rules and processes remain of critical importance.
So, we applaud and support our Government’s work to find practical solutions to making the WTO work better for all its members.
All of this can only take place if there is wide public support and understanding for trade.
That is where NZIBF plays an important role, through our Tradeworks website and linked social media programme and other outreach, in making the case for trade, pointing out the value New Zealand derives in terms of jobs and growth, and advancing ideas for making trade work better for people.
We are grateful for the support we receive from our members, friends and allies, from our Government and other like-minded governments including those represented here this evening, from sister organisations like ABAC, the NZ China Council and the NZ US Council.
As we look forward to the end of the year, let’s hope for an improvement in the global situation and let’s resolve, once the important end of year festivities are concluded, to picking up the job again and to continue to build, enhance and promote our trade and investment interests in the year ahead.