New horizons for services exporters?

by | Oct 21, 2016 | Trade Working Blog

free-thinkingServices have been described as something you can buy and sell, but can’t drop on your foot.  Now it is to be hoped that the 23 members of the negotiations for a new Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) don’t drop the ball when they meet in early December to finalise a ground-breaking new trade agreement.

TiSA offers an important chance to reduce barriers facing New Zealand suppliers of high-quality financial and insurance services, transport, construction, privately-provided education, computer and software services as well as a range of professional and business services provided by engineers, architects, lawyers, consultants and other technical experts.

Last year New Zealand provided $20.3 billion of services to overseas customers, just under one-third of total exports.

TiSA is being negotiated New Zealand and big trading partners such as the EU, US, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Canada, Mexico and 14 others.   Together the group accounts for 70 percent of world trade in services. TiSA seeks to open up markets and improve rules in areas such as discriminatory licensing, financial services, e-commerce and data flows (which may be particularly of interest to small and distant suppliers such as New Zealand), maritime transport and the ability for professionals to work temporarily overseas to provide services, as well as transparency and due process of law.

New Zealand’s market is already very open and enjoys one of the more liberalised regulatory systems in the world .  Trade  Minister Todd McClay has confirmed that New Zealand negotiators are operating with a mandate that would retain the right for the New Zealand government to regulate, including in core areas such as health and safety or the environment, or in relation to Treaty of Waitangi obligations.  Any deal would also be subject to normal Parliamentary processes for approving international agreements.

It will be critical for the government to keep in close touch with stakeholders as the negotiations move forward – NZIBF is keen to keep in touch with any companies interested in this negotiation.

This post was prepared by Stephanie Honey, Associate Director of the NZ International Business Forum.

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