Remarks to launch of “New Zealand Trade Negotiations”

NZIBF is pleased to sponsor the publication of a new book by Professor Stephen Hoadley – “New Zealand Trade Negotiations”.  This is what Executive Director Stephen Jacobi said at the launch in Wellington on 20 July.

It’s a pleasure to be with you this evening.

The NZ International Business Forum is delighted to join with the NZ Institute of International Affairs in launching this important new book.

Our warmest congratulations to Professor Stephen Hoadley for this achievement.

Professor Hoadley’s work advances our understanding of both the extent and the success of New Zealand’s trade negotiating effort over recent decades.

It’s surprising, given the importance of international trade to New Zealand’s economy, that so little is written about this effort in the academic literature.

Some years ago, in the aftermath of the riots at the WTO meeting in Seattle, the (then) Trade Liberalisation Network was established, under Brian Lynch’s leadership, to enhance New Zealanders’ support and understanding for trade.

The TLN initiated a campaign under the slogan “Trade Rules OK” – aiming to show that free trade was not the law of the jungle, but a deliberate and considered effort to set the rules of the game and deliver advantage for New Zealand.

A generation later, in the face of new questioning about the pace and extent of globalisation in some parts of the world, the TLN’s mantle has passed to the NZ International Business Forum.

NZIBF’s campaign is organised around the theme of Tradeworks – please follow us on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook and on Linked In !

The media may have changed, but the message is broadly the same – trade works for New Zealand, trade keeps New Zealanders working and the search for better trade rules is as pressing today as it ever was.

I cite all this because Professor Hoadley’s book provides ample academic evidence that trade rules are ok and trade can and does work for New Zealand.

Professor Hoadley’s book chronicles the ups and downs, the reversals and occasional triumphs in the history of New Zealand’s negotiations with our major partners and in instruments like TPP and in the WTO.

In so doing he brings to light some extraordinarily challenging situations – some existential even – which over time have faced New Zealand as a trading nation.

With his eight phases of trade negotiations, Professor Hoadley establishes a useful framework for understanding how these complex policy initiatives are progressed by successive generations of talented trade negotiators.

We at the NZ International Business Forum are particularly pleased at the attention paid to the role of business, something frequently overlooked as academics debate the externalities associated with trade.

This is not to suggest such debate is unjustified – on the contrary, the value of Professor Hoadley’s work is that the debate will be more grounded in fact and the challenges facing negotiators will be better understood.

This, in essence, is why the NZ International Business Forum as a group of business leaders concerned with the way New Zealand integrates into global markets, chose to support the publication of this book.

We welcome the debate about trade and are pleased to participate in it alongside other members of civil society.

I should like to take this opportunity to extend our collective thanks for the work Trade Minister Todd McClay doing to lift the quality of the trade debate and take the trade message directly to the people of New Zealand.

We welcome also the steps being taken to engage more with business and public stakeholders including through the newly re-established Ministerial Advisory Group, along with moves to restore the bipartisan support for trade which was a hallmark of the efforts described in Professor Hoadley’s work.

As we look at the environment for trade negotiations today we find a landscape as challenging as ever.

A new protectionism is rising in some parts of the world, while in others, particularly close to us in Asia, globalisation is continuing to expand under new models such as China’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.

All this requires the sort of political leadership, negotiating skill and tenacity as well as business and public support described by Professor Hoadley.

On behalf of the NZ International Business Forum, which knows that trade works, I commend this book to you all; I thank New Zealand’s negotiators for their hard work and I congratulate Professor Hoadley again for this admirable contribution to New Zealand’s economic history.


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