Government signs off on Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) have come to a conclusion and Prime Minister John Key has touted it as New Zealand’s biggest free trade agreement (FTA).

John Key says, “This agreement will give our exporters much better access to a market of more than 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific, and help Kiwi firms do business overseas,”

“In particular, TPP represents New Zealand’s first FTA relationship with the largest and third-largest economies in the world – the United States and Japan. Successive New Zealand governments have been working to achieve this for 25 years.”

Despite protest from a number of groups, including iwi regarding the secrecy surrounding negotiations and the implications of the TPP over wider New Zealand, particularly Māori sovereignty and the Treaty of Waitangi, the nations involved in TPP negotiations signed off on the agreement after days of discussion.

A collection of Māori bodies also took a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal with the hope of pushing the Crown to consult with Māori before signing the TPP.

Regardless of the opposition, negotiations and the agreement have pushed forward and John Key says “As a country, we won’t get rich selling things to ourselves. Instead, we need to sell more of our products and services to customers around the world, and TPP helps makes that happen.”

According to the information released regarding the TPP, tariffs on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to FTA partners to the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Peru will be eliminated.

Dairy exporters will have access to these markets through newly created quotas, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products.

Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, with the exception of beef exports to Japan, where tariffs will reduce significantly.

 “We’re disappointed there wasn’t agreement to eliminate all dairy tariffs but overall it’s a very good deal for New Zealand,” Key says.

Concerns were also raised during negotiations regarding the potential  impact the TPP could have on the pharmaceutical industry 

However according to Key, “Many concerns raised previously about TPP are not reflected in the final agreement. For example, consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and the PHARMAC model will not change.

“Now the negotiations have concluded, people will see that TPP is, overall, very positive for New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

The Government is continuing negotiations with a number of other countries and is actively pursuing the launch of an FTA with the European Union.