TPP axing a 'blow' to NZ say biz leaders

New Zealand Minister of Trade, Todd McClay addressees the ministers as they begin the formalities of the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at SkyCity. Photo / File
New Zealand Minister of Trade, Todd McClay addressees the ministers as they begin the formalities of the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at SkyCity. Photo / File

Donald Trump's announcement that he would quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership on day one of his tenure as US President is not surprising but still a huge disappointment say business leaders.

The President-elect today released a video laying out actions he'll take on his first day in office on January 20, including withdrawing the US from the TTP trade deal.

"This is an absolute blow," said Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope. "This deal took a very long time and was very complex so it's very disappointing."

Hope said Business NZ would be working to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the US "quite rapidly".

"Trump has said he is open to high-quality bilateral deals, but the challenge is to define what high quality looks like for New Zealand," he said.

"A good deal will always be challenging."

New Zealand is also looking at a bilateral deal with the United Kingdom after the shock Brexit result, Hope said.

Catherine Beard of Export NZ said the statement from Trump came as a disappointment as she thought he might soften his stance once in power. Republicans are traditionally a pro-trade party.

"This is more of a lost opportunity than anything else," Beard said. "TPP was about opportunities going forward and having our exporters on competitive ground."

The news comes as a blow primarily to the agricultural sector where most gain was to be made from the deal.

Agricultural exports encounter the high tariff barriers in the United States in Japan which makes competing difficult and expensive.

Beard said New Zealand was open to a bilateral deal with the US but it comes "with a big question mark".

Beard and Hope said the focus had shifted to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between India, China, Korea, Japan and New Zealand.

There needed to be a lot of work done on RCEP to make it as comprehensive as TPP, Beard said, but the deal could set an international example.

"The Asia-Pacific region could show the world that we are capable of these deals," she said.

- NZ Herald

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