Conducting international business using a “patchwork” of bilateral free trade agreements makes no economic sense, Trade Minister Tim Groser says.
At the Japan-New Zealand Partnership Forum in Tokyo yesterday Groser addressed more than 100 government, business and community leaders from both countries, espousing the importance of the Trans Pacific Partnership which New Zealand is seeking Japan’s involvement in, as a precursor to a wider Asia-Pacific free trade area.
“TPP will form the basis of an integrated regional trading bloc linking Asia, Australasia and the Americas, and cement the US role in the region,” he says.
The forum (which continues today) began with a silent remembrance for lives lost in both countries’ natural disasters. Groser thanked Japan for its help following the Christchurch earthquake, and acknowledged the devastation caused by their own natural disasters just weeks later. Under the theme "Overcoming Adversity, Building the future" discussion then focused on how both countries could work together to accelerate the disaster recovery and renew shattered communities.
In his address, event co-chairman Hon Philip Burdon of the Asia New Zealand Foundation said it was essential to be part of this fast-growing region. "We must ensure that business can quickly recover from natural disasters, markets remain open and regional supply chains can continue to operate to meet consumers' needs."
He says support was expressed for Japan’s participation in the TPP, and told delegates its involvement in the TPP would build “critical mass” towards a regional trading bloc.
"Our discussion pointed to potential opportunities for enhanced co-operation between Japan and New Zealand in a range of areas including renewable/sustainable energy, the built-environment using sustainably produced and engineered timber in advanced design and construction as well as in the more traditional areas of business in added value food and agricultural products."
Groser echoed a similar sentiment, saying New Zealand could help Japan address its growing energy and food demands.
There were already many examples of New Zealand-Japan cooperation in primary industries, he said, including Japanese investment in beef, fishing, kiwifruit and forestry.
“Given the tightening of global supply, it is important to maintain a strong relationship with New Zealand for the benefit of many of Japan’s industries and consumers … New Zealand can be a partner for Japanese agriculture as it develops its full potential.”
BusinessNZ CEO Phil O’Reilly also spoke at the forum, alluding to the vulnerabilities of global supply chains of late. Free trade, he said, would optimise efficiency and reduce costs.
“What we as business want to see from TPP is better regulation rather than no regulation, better government rather than no government and certainly better business rather than business which is constrained in its ability to meet customers’ needs.
“Japan will need to decide whether it is in Japan’s interest to be part of or stand aside from the move towards greater economic integration through TPP and FTAAP."
Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- A multilateral free trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific region
- Originally signed by Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand
- The US, Australia, Peru and Vietnam are also in negotiations to join up
Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)
- A free trade zone which would include all APEC member economies
Japan-New Zealand Partnership Forum
- Now in its third year
- Organised by the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) and partners in Japan and New Zealand
- Co-chaired by Hon Philip Burdon, chair of the Asia New Zealand Foundation and Orix Corporation chair/CEO Yoshihiko Miyauchi
- Keynote addresses delivered by NZ Trade Minister, Hon Tim Groser, and Japan's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, H E Yutaka Banno