Todd McClay: A cause to celebrate

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New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McLay meets with US Ambassador, Michael Froman. Photo / Peter Meecham
New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McLay meets with US Ambassador, Michael Froman. Photo / Peter Meecham

Today 11 other trade ministers from across Asia and the Pacific will join me in signing New Zealand's largest free-trade deal - a deal which will bring growth and prosperity to every region in New Zealand.

TPP is a big deal, and as Helen Clark and Phil Goff have indicated, it is unimaginable we not take part.

Despite misinformation from a vocal minority, jumbo jets filled with corporate lawyers are not on their way here. The sky will not fall in.

We are a small export nation and trade is our lifeblood. Every region in New Zealand relies on trade. Take fish away from Nelson, kiwifruit from the Bay of Plenty, forestry from Kawerau or Tokoroa and wine from Marlborough and see what happens.

This deal means equal and fair access to 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific who spend $27 trillion of GDP each year. Those countries account for 36 per cent of the global economy and include the world's biggest economy, the United States.

Current assessments say the deal is worth $2.7 billion to New Zealand each year by 2030 but I think that's conservative.

Take the China free-trade deal. From the start of that agreement in 2008, trade between our countries quickly doubled to $20 billion.

It is disingenuous of opponents to talk about a loss of sovereignty. The China FTA, the Korea FTA and TPP have almost identical chapters that ensure governments are open and transparent, and allow affected people to make submissions on proposed laws. That's a good thing. But in the end, TPP countries will not be able to dictate New Zealand law.

How about foreign investors suing the New Zealand government? We have had investor-state dispute provisions in international agreements, including the China FTA, going back 27 years and no case has ever been taken against us.

And, no, medicines will not cost you more.

Will Maori be disadvantaged? No chance. The Maori economy is a $40 billion business and is set to gain all of the advantages other exporters have. On top of that, the TPP includes a specific provision preserving the pre-eminence of the Treaty of Waitangi. Nothing in TPP will prevent the Crown meeting its obligations.

Today is an exceptionally important day for New Zealand.

It's about doing what's right for New Zealanders by supporting an agreement that will bring prosperity, jobs and higher incomes for your kids and mine.

Todd McClay is New Zealand's Minister of Trade.

- NZ Herald

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