Māori economy can recover and will - Nanaia Mahuta

By Bronson Perich

Associate Trade Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the Māori economy can recover from Covid-19 and will. She says the three-pillar plan unveiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will help to do that.

"I think Māori are responding well to the opportunity ahead. But we would expect that," Nanaia Mahuta says.

In a live conference held this afternoon, Nanaia Mahuta and David Parker unveiled their recovery plan, to bring jobs back home.

The three-pillar strategy unveiled

Covid-19 means Aotearoa businesspeople cannot travel to their overseas customers so the government intends to use its extensive international networks of diplomats and trade offices to help these exporters. They will help by being advocates and points of contact. This forms the first pillar.

Countries all over the world are struggling to recover from the coronavirus. Minister David Parker says that these countries are adopting 'protectionist' and 'nationalist' policies. This means  they are trying to buy and sell their own goods, instead of importing from Aotearoa. He says Aotearoa will not adopt that same approach but will instead continue to trade with the world.

The goal will be fairer 'rules-based' trade agreements. 

An example he cites of an unfair deal includes the latest trade offer from the European Union. David Parker didn't hesitate to denounce it.

“This latest offer from the European Union reflects agricultural protectionism in the EU," David Parker says.

“It is clear the EU will need to address this imbalance."

He says he will be informing the EU that Aotearoa rejects its offer.

The last pillar is to strengthen relationships.

Minister Parker quotes the example of the relationship with Singapore. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, Aotearoa ports remained open to PPE imports from Singapore while they continued to buy local kai. He says Aotearoa was part of a seven-nation alliance that traded essential goods throughout the lockdown. Deepening these relationships will be essential to bringing jobs back, he says.

Māori economy

Associate minister Mahuta says her focus is on helping the Māori economy thrive. To do that, her priority is to help reset the Māori economy. This means exporting more added value products like cheese instead of raw ingredients like milk.

"One of the reasons I argued for, and David supported me, having an associate trade minister with an emphasis on the Māori economy was the opportunity to deepen the potential of indigenous agreements and partnerships," Mahuta says.

She says Aotearoa has yet to tap into the potential commerce that couldemerge from such relationships.

The full broadcast can be viewed below.