The New Zealand International Business Forum is urging the New Zealand and European Union Governments to proceed to the negotiating table to hammer out a free trade agreement.
A decision about whether the EU and NZ will launch negotiations is expected later this year.
NZIBF executive director Stephen Jacobi says Europe is already a very significant trade and investment partner for New Zealand: the EU is a top export market, second largest source of imports and the second largest source of investment.
“New Zealand companies are already engaging in strategic partnerships with European manufacturers and service providers in addition to supplying consumers directly – but there is scope to do much more,” says Jacobi.
Today the NZIBF is releasing a discussion paper at BusinessNZ in Wellington outlining the case for a NZ/EU FTA.
Europe has 500 million consumers who are potentially interested in consuming New Zealand’s flagship products and services, says Jacobi.
Although the relationship is in reasonable shape, many New Zealand exports still face barriers at the border or behind it, which add costs, generate uncertainty or in some cases, even make trade uneconomic.
“Our access arrangements are thirty years old, and leave New Zealand at a disadvantage compared to competitors with their own preferential arrangements.”
Similarly European exporters risk being uncompetitive as a result of New Zealand’s FTAs with economies in the Asia Pacific.
New Zealand has a lot to offer but may not even be on the radar for European companies who could provide essential capital inflows or European manufacturers engaged in high-value production, he says.
We should be trying to target European investment to match with New Zealand resources and know-how and then jointly market these opportunities using our network of FTAs in Asia. This will create new industries, growth and jobs for Kiwis, says Jacobi.
A FTA would offer significant new opportunities to both sides to expand business in agriculture and food as well as technology, services (including tourism, education and environmental services), niche and high-value manufacturing, research and investment.
“A high quality ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the EU is strongly in the interests of the New Zealand business community, and would be good for Europe too, “ says Jacobi.