National bold on international trade

Friday, March 31, 2017

New Zealand is fundamentally a trading nation and our broad international trade ties are part of the reason why New Zealand is doing so well today.

They are part of the reason why New Zealand is growing more strongly than most other developed countries, why the average wage is up 26 per cent since National took office and why over 370,000 jobs have been created since the height of the GFC.

And it’s also why the cost of living here remains historically low, with things like cars, appliances and cell phones becoming more affordable.

Ultimately it’s part of the reason why we are such a confident and successful country, but we must not take that for granted. We must continue to forge new and improved ties with the rest of the world, to ensure we sustain that success.

The opportunities presented to us through trading with the world are immense. We know that we won’t get rich by selling things to ourselves. But we might by selling them to the world.

Successive New Zealand governments have finalised trade agreements with a number of countries including Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and China.

Our agreements so far are working well for exporters and getting Kiwis a good return.

Our goods exports to mainland China are now four times what they were before the FTA and our wine exports to South Korea have increased by 30 per cent, just six months into our agreement.

Exports are worth $70 billion to our economy and this Government knows not only how important trade is to Kiwi businesses, but how much of the world these businesses still struggle to trade with.

Prime Minister Bill English recently set out the National-led Government’s commitment to forging new and improved trade ties, and further investment to achieve that, when he launched our new trade strategy – Trade Agenda 2030.

Under Trade Agenda 2030 we’ve set the ambitious goal of having free trade agreements cover 90 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports by 2030, up from 53 per cent today.

$91.3 million over four years will be dedicated to helping us achieve this under Budget 2017.

This funding will go towards forging new trade agreements, maximising the benefits of existing ones, establishing new diplomatic posts in Dublin and Sri Lanka and supporting Kiwi exporters to enter new markets.

It’s difficult to overstate how important trade is to New Zealand and how closely it is linked to our prosperity and it’s exciting to see our Government acknowledge trade as the lifeblood of our economy.