Māori businesses concerned about Trump trade policy

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The FOMA Executive member for Te Taitokerau Peter Tipene is concerned the new US president-elect Donald Trump will hinder future trade with the US. Te Kāea was at the 29th annual FOMA Conference in Hamilton today.

The TPP will likely be a point of discussion amongst members who are in the business of exporting. FOMA Chairman Traci Houpapa says the removal of some or most tariffs for exporters would have financial benefits for the federation. But some members say they're anxious Donald Trump’s redneck comments about indigenous people could have an influence on whether he will be open to trading with New Zealand.

FOMA consists of 150 members with an $8bil asset base and supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Tipene says he's concerned about Trump’s opposition to trade.

“I'm concerned about the many red neck comments he's made, which don't consider the rights of brown, black or indigenous peoples.  However, we want to continue to trade with America. Now, if he blocks that trade, that's a problem, and that's what I fear will happen.  That's the essence of his policies.”

It's been reported Trump opposes the TPP arguing it would hurt American workers. Prime Minister John Key says the deal will most likely not go ahead.

Houpapa says, “For us the obvious conversation on the table is TPP and Trump has been very vocal in saying that he does not support it and that he will review all trade mechanisms to ensure that they are in the best advantage for the US and for the US economy.  What does that look like for Aotearoa New Zealand? Again, what does that look like for the Māori economy has yet to be determined?”

FOMA has been in discussions with the New Zealand Government for the last 10 years and says over 110 trade agreements or partnerships have been signed with clauses that will protect preserve Māori rights.

“And that exact same clause is in the TPP. So while we recognise that some of our people have concerns at a technical level, we're confident that the provisions are within the current draft,” says Houpapa.

However, the New Zealand government is going ahead with its TPP legislation, despite Trump’s opposition.

“He'll only be focussed on looking after America's own interests and not the interests of other countries. Therefore I think he won't be open to trade with other countries,” says Tipene.

The FOMA conference continues tomorrow where guest speakers Māori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan and Former New Plymouth City Council Mayor Andrew Judd will be making presentations.