Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

High-quality Pacific trade deal vital, says Key

John Key. Photo / NZPA
John Key. Photo / NZPA

Prime Minister John Key says the timeframe of concluding the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is important but not as important to New Zealand as getting a high-quality deal.

The 12th round of negotiations begins this week in the United States, with officials from the nine countries (New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Brunei, Peru, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the United States) negotiating the trade and investment agreement heading to Dallas, Texas.

Key was optimistic that a deal would be concluded eventually, though not necessarily by the time of the Apec summit in Vladivostok in September.

He spelled out New Zealand's bottom lines to a conference in Auckland on the TPP to mark the 10th anniversary of the NZ-US Council.

"In the end a deal that doesn't include agriculture and a deal that doesn't have access for New Zealand's great products in that area from beef to dairy is unacceptable," he said.

"That is specifically because in the end we are not going to weaken future negotiations we have by signing up to something we have that is substandard and there would be nothing in it for New Zealand."

He said the issue of intellectual property protection was deeply felt by the United States for a very good reason.

"It happens to be the one country in the world that develops the vast bulk of intellectual property and why wouldn't they want to protect those interests as they look to expand them around the world."

United States ambassador David Huebner said the stakes for the intellectual property part of the deal were high. In the US patent and copyright intensive industries contributed about 34.8 per cent of GDP.

Average weekly wages in IP intensive industries were 42 per cent higher than in non-IP intensive industries.

"The future of both of our societies lies in the creativity of our people," Huebner said.

"Harnessing the economic benefit of that creativity is dependent on robust intellectual property protection and enforcement.

"Guaranteed commercial exclusivity of appropriate duration is what seeds innovation in [a] market economy, not government decrees and certainly not piracy, whether freelance or state legislated."

People had to consider carefully what a gold standard or 21st century deal actually meant.

"Twenty-first century economies are built on intellectual property, investment and services, professional migration, currency flows, complex regulatory frameworks, global environmental concerns, not just exporting one's pollution, labour standards and new corporate forms.

"Sidestepping or fig-leafing those factors moves us backwards, not forwards," Huebner said.

NZIER presented research by Honolulu's East West Centre to the conference estimating that the TPP could add $2.1 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2025.

- NZ Herald

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