Opunake Coastal News Column - Opunake High School Students get the low down on the TPP

Columns
Monday, May 16, 2016

We recently hosted Minister of Trade the Hon Todd McClay here in Taranaki to provide opportunity to talk about the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Included was an invitation to the local high schools with approximately 150 year 12 and 13 students coming to hear the ins and outs of how the trade deal will work.  It was great to have a contingent come through from Opunake High School to meet the Trade Minister and ask him some well thought through questions!
The Taranaki Chamber of Commerce also hosted a business luncheon for the business community.  It was great to get the current business leaders and some future business leaders (students) all get opportunity to clarify the importance of this trade deal for New Zealand and Taranaki. 
The Trans Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries (Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Mexico, Peru and Chile).
For us, it will provide tariff savings of an estimated $96 million a year for the dairy industry, which is good news for our local farmers.  Looking at the meat industry alone there will be tariff savings on an estimated $84 million a year, and to put that in context there was New Zealand exports of $2.8 billion in meat products to the TPP region in 2015.
New Zealand is an exporting nation and selling to our own people only will never make us wealthy. However what will see our economy grow is selling to the 800 million people that is included in the TPP Region, including some of the world’s largest economies, USA and Japan. 
What the TPP creates is a level playing field for our exporters so that we are competing with the same tariffs or the elimination of tariffs alongside other exporters within the TPP.  With $274 million tariffs saved per year and an estimated $2.7 billion a year added to GDP by 2030, this is a trade deal that is in the best interests of New Zealand and for us locally.
Todd McClay, the Minister of Trade debunked a number of myths that the opposition to TPP have been spreading. Students asked questions around the costs of medicine and the provision for investor state dispute processes. He clarified that these processes were an instrument of public international law that grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government, if those governments break their agreements or arbitrarily nationalise such foreign owned assets to the detriment of investors. The investor state dispute process has been included in all international trade agreements in the past as a standard part of the trade agreements. The first ISDS was included in a trade agreement between Germany and Pakistan in 1959.
All in all, it was an excellent visit to Taranaki that gave many people the opportunity to ask some solid and searching questions. The next Minister to visit Taranaki will be Hon Nathan Guy, the Minister of Primary Industries. He will be visiting Coastal Taranaki. More information is to follow.