FOMA welcomes CPTPP sign-off

By Talisa Kupenga

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has been signed off with the first round of tariff cuts due December 30.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker made the announcement this morning alongside Australian High Commissioner Ewen McDonald.

"It represents thirteen percent of the world's GDP, the countries that are in it...have a combined annual GDP of just under fifteen trillion New Zealand dollars," says Parker.

Australia, sixth to sign the agreement, joins Singapore, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Canada in ratifying the eleven country Pacific Rim deal.

The remaining countries yet to ratify are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.

In its early stages the then-named Trans-Pacific Partnership was mired in protest and controversy with many Māori commentators saying it failed to meet Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

Parker is confident the CPTPP protects Māori interests.  The Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) has welcomed the reworked deal.

FOMA Chairwoman Traci Houpapa says "It immediately reduces and removes trade barriers and tariffs for Māori and all of NZ exporters.  That has an immediate and direct impact on our local and regional economies and direct benefits for Aotearoa."  

Despite the go-ahead, concerns remain for some businesses over whether the government's intellectual property laws could be updated in time to protect Māori intellectual property on the global stage.

Houpapa says, "It's an ongoing conversation that we have.  FOMA sits at the table with the prime minister and cabinet on trade matters and we will continue these conversations." 

The deal has the potential to deliver an estimated $222mil of tariff savings annually once in full effect and is expected to boost NZ's real GDP between $1.2bil and $4bil.

It marks the first free trade deal between New Zealand and Japan, the third largest economy in the world, as well as with Mexico and Canada.

Labour, NZ First, National and ACT all voted in favour of ratification when the bill went through parliament.  The Greens opposed it.