Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of NZIBF, traveled to San Francisco for APEC Leaders’ week and writes his thoughts on the outcome.

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by | Sep 14, 2020 | Trade Working Blog


This is a critical time.  Make your vote count on election day. New Zealand’s future prosperity and sustainability depend on it.

It’s election day in Aotearoa/New Zealand on 17 October.  As in previous elections, the team at Trade Works is publishing here the views of the major political parties on trade.

What’s trade got to do with it?

Although we love trade, even we have to admit that “trade” is not a headline issue in this election.  But it really matters as the pathway to achieving some of the things that are top of mind during the campaign. Our ability to trade profitably and sustainably is at the heart of New Zealand’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.  These are the most difficult times most of us have seen.  The world is in a greater mess than at any time since World War II.  Our country, like the world as a whole, needs visionary, decisive and compassionate leadership to emerge from the health crisis and stimulate a global economic recovery.  Trade will be central to this.  There is also the chance to “build back better” and not repeat mistakes of the past, particularly by retreating inwards and reverting to sicken-thy-neighbour protectionism.  There is already too much of that in the world today.

Our country, like the world as a whole, needs visionary, decisive and compassionate leadership to emerge from the health crisis and stimulate a global economic recovery.  Trade will be central to this.

Calling all trade leaders

We have put a number of questions to the Trade Spokespersons of the parties currently represented in the NZ Parliament.  We are grateful to the Green, Labour, National and NZ First parties for responding.  We hope that Act will answer in due course because we want to hear their views.  We have reproduced the answers as we have received them and offer no commentary on whether or not we agree with them.  Democracy, like trade, should not be a “zero sum game” – at Trade Works we respect others’ views even when we disagree with them.

We are however pleased to see a degree of bipartisanship in the responses we have received.  Trade policy is by nature a long-term thing and requires alignment across successive governments.  That has traditionally been the case in Aotearoa, but bipartisanship became fractured with the divisive debates about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Of course, there should be debate about trade issues, but it is helpful when the debate is balanced and informed.

Trade rules ok !

Here’s our view:  trade is a key ingredient to achieving economic growth that is sustainable and delivers benefits and jobs across our communities.  So, we need thriving trade.   How do we achieve that?  Trade thrives when backed up by trade rules which are clear, non-discriminatory between trading partners and applied consistently.  Trade thrives under good, consultative government and sensible, science-based regulation.  Trade thrives and helps build communities when everyone is included and government, business and other stakeholders work together.  Whoever forms the NZ Government after 17 October, we hope our political parties remember that.

This post was prepared by the Trade Works team.


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