Statement to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee International Treaty Examination of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation NZIBF – 9 August 2013

by | Aug 9, 2013 | Speeches

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Mr Chairman, Honourable members.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. I do so on behalf of the nine business leaders who make up the membership of the NZ International Business Forum. The organisations they represent are among New Zealand’s largest internationally oriented businesses and peak business associations.

You will be hearing from several of these organisations directly and questions related to the impact of this agreement on their individual operations are best directed to them. As the NZ International Business Forum we are particularly interested in the way New Zealand enterprises and our economy as a whole is able to integrate with the global economy. From this perspective this agreement with Taiwan is a very welcome development.

The comprehensive tariff elimination and other improvements to the rules governing trade and investment between the parties will lead to improved returns for business and lower costs and more product choice for consumers. Equally as important, from a strategic perspective, this agreement, the first of its kind between the Customs Territory and an OECD economy, shows how Taiwan can be integrated into the international trading system without raising wider political issues or detracting from the one China policy pursued by New Zealand and other economies. This has potentially far reaching effects, hopefully making it possible for Taiwan to associate in time with other regional trade liberalisation initiatives including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to participate fully in the developing regional consensus about the framework of rules for trade and investment amongst the APEC economies. Both the current government and its predecessor, and the officials involved, deserve credit for this achievement.

Finally I would note that the adjustment required of New Zealand to implement this agreement is limited. Outside tariff changes few modifications to current policy settings will be necessary. The agreement is innovative in its treatment of labour, environment and indigenous issues. The agreement is high quality, ambitious and comprehensive. The early time-frame for tariff elimination in goods of key interest to New Zealand is particularly positive.

The NZ International Business Forum welcomes this agreement and the opportunity it provides to expand trade and investment linkages with Taiwan. We concur with the conclusions of the agreement’s positive impact on New Zealand’s economic interests described in the National Interest Analysis and recommend the agreement’s early ratification and entry into force.

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