2009-11-15

Barack in the free trade business

14 November 2009

Barack in the free trade business

In the space of just 24 hours, New Zealand has got welcome confirmation the United States is to take part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This news coming hard on the heels of yesterday’s New Zealand – Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Agreement.

“The news coming out of the APEC CEO summit indicates that a free trade area, encompassing the United States, Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand, is back on the table,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

“To say this is great news is an under-statement - it’s fantastic news. To me, President Obama is turning away from the isolationist trade policies Federated Farmers rallied against earlier in the year.

“Free trade is the only means to truly grow the United States and world economy. With unemployment there over ten percent, the United States needs an export-led recovery every bit as much as New Zealand.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is exactly the kind of free-trade deal that the United States Congress should endorse. We don’t expect their dairy lobby will go quietly, given they went before the United States Senate last month pleading for an extension of subsidies.

"The potential for New Zealand in this is immense. It’s ‘Barack’ to business for America.

“The United States is our second largest export market worth around $4.1 billion overall. When you factor in Brunei, Chile and Singapore, this grouping represents well over 12 percent of all our merchandise exports.

“The United States is our biggest beef market taking half of all beef exports generating 42 percent of export value. It’s also our fourth largest market for lamb too.

“Fonterra's United States operations, for instance, produce revenues for the cooperative of around $3.6 billion. Strategically, the United States is the third-largest market on the planet for fluid milk behind India and the European Union. It has to be remembered that New Zealand commenced free trade negotiations with India in February as well.

“Having seen Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative in action at the Cairns Group meeting earlier in the year, I’m optimistic the Obama administration believes it can now get a deal through the United States Congress. That’s a huge turnaround that must be welcomed.

“Having the world's largest economy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership builds on the other deals both signed and in the offing. These are all things to be savoured,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

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