ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
WELLINGTON, 26 NOVEMBER 2018
I am pleased to present my third report on the activities and achievements of the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) for 2017-18.
NZIBF is now in its eleventh year and judging by the current state of the international trading system our work in representing the interests of New Zealand’s international businesses and co-operating positively with the Government to advance market access and better trade rules is now more needed than ever.
The global environment for trade deteriorated over the year as disagreements between the United States and China developed into a series of tariff actions and reprisals. While there are issues needing to be addressed in the global economy, no-one wins from a trade war and not the least a small, open and outward-looking economy like New Zealand. As the conflict expands the implications for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and future global economic growth are serious and require the closest attention of our Government. We are pleased to see the leadership being shown by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker.
On a more positive note, we are delighted to see the progress made with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which has been a long term goal of NZIBF. Throughout the year we followed the negotiations and made submissions to the domestic ratification process. In September 2017 a number of NZIBF Board members travelled to Tokyo for a series of detailed consultations with like-minded business organisations about the future of the negotiation. We welcome the leadership shown by the Japanese Government and are delighted with the opportunity CPTPP will give to transform the economic relationship with Japan. We are pleased that the bipartisan consensus in New Zealand on trade appears to have returned. We now eagerly anticipate entry into force of CPTPP on 30 December.
NZIBF also welcomed the launch of negotiations with the European Union and has taken part in direct discussions with EU officials both in Brussels and in New Zealand. We have continued to follow the upgrade of the FTA with China – where progress is overdue – and the continuing efforts to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – where NZIBF participates in the East Asia Business Council’s Working Group. At time of writing NZIBF is preparing a study of NZ business interests in a future NZ/UK FTA.
NZIBF has been active in leading business advocacy for all these major trade negotiations, through submissions, regular liaison with officials and business allies and media and public commentary. Last year we continued to expand our Tradeworks website and linked social media platforms and have continued to make the case for trade to the public at large, including through a number of public addresses, videos and regular blogs.
Since 2009 NZIBF has provided 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 appreciate the work undertaken by ABAC on regional trade initiatives; support for the multilateral trading system; non-tariff barriers – where ABAC’s work led by associate member Katherine Rich has been taken up by governments; micro, small and medium sized business issues and the digital economy. New Zealand is to host APEC in 2021 which will require both an evolution of our decade-long role supporting ABAC and also attention to developing an active business agenda to be pursued under New Zealand leadership.
The NZIBF Board met four times last year and I should like to thank my fellow Board members for their continuing support. We thank departing members Sir Graeme Harrison (Anzco), James Parsons (Beef + Lamb), Brian Stanley (Wood Council) and Philip Turner (Fonterra). We welcome new members John Loughlin (Meat Industry Association), Andrew Morrison (Beef + Lamb), Hon Simon Power (Westpac), Sarah Salmond (Russell McVeagh) and Simon Tucker (Fonterra). 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 and offshore. NZIBF values the professional expertise and advice of Stephen Jacobi, Fiona Cooper Clarke and Stephanie Honey, who are all highly regarded in the business community and government circles.
The current environment for trade is such that if NZIBF did not already exist we would need to invent it. Fortunately our past advocacy, wide network of connections and unique perspectives gained from our member organisations give us the platform from which to unite our efforts with the Government in defence of the trading system that has served New Zealand, and the rest of the world, so well.