New Rules on the Global Economy


The government’s attempts to revive the Trade Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) have, as predicted, failed. Instead, the government is now putting its faith in negotiating numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). It’s more of the same, ignoring the lessons from the TPPA debacle.

The Prime Minister, Bill English, launched the government’s new trade ‘strategy’ on 24 March with the backing of the International Business forum, a pro-trade lobby group. It envisages 90% of New Zealand’s trade will be covered by a series of new FTAs by 2030.

In order to get to 90%, this must include the US. But there is a problem. Because these deals are between only two countries, the powerful nations win and the weaker nations lose, as shown by Australia’s deal with the US. This is even more likely with Trump in the White House.  

As with the proposed FTA with the EU, the big countries won’t remove their agricultural subsidies they pay to large agribusiness. These are far more damaging to New Zealand farmers than tariffs.

TDB Recommends

The proliferation of FTAs, now numbering around 250 around the world, is also difficult for small companies. They need to deal with a ‘spaghetti bowl’ of different rules and regulations.

The Trade Minister, Todd McClay has been desperately seeking new deals to announce, often far into the future, exaggerating the benefits and ignoring the costs. But at least one deal may happen soon – the Gulf States FTA has been oiled by payments to a billionaire Saudi sheikh for an “agrihub” in the desert. By the time it is signed, it will have been an expensive deal in terms of a sleazy reputation for the government, the suffering of sheep and a payment of $11 million.

Most of the benefits claimed for the FTAs are, as for the TPPA, speculative. They are also wrong. A report by NZIER claims that New Zealand exporters stand to gain $8 billion in more exports to Asia-Pacific by removing all Non-Tariff Measures. But these “NTMs” are all the health and safety regulations, biosecurity controls, environmental regulations that affect trade, and anti-dumping measures. In most cases these are not trade barriers, but legitimate regulations in the public interest.

This hasn’t stopped the Trade Minister and Minister of Primary Industries from claiming these as potential benefits from FTAs. This is misleading and part of a desperate attempt to hype up the benefits of FTAs.

Not everyone is fooled. The Chartered Accountants association surveyed 600 New Zealand businesses and 72% said that free trade agreements didn’t benefit their business. They wanted real benefits from trade like streamlined customs, online platforms, and a better environmental reputation for New Zealand, rather than over-hyped FTAs.  

Despite this scepticism and the TPPA failure, the government is still negotiating deals that benefit the few, while taking on obligations for strengthened patents and copyright that would lead to higher prices. These deals include restrictions on government powers to regulate in the public interest and the right for multinationals to take our government to an international tribunal.  

The Greens would change the rules, so that trade agreements are fair and sustainable, support the local economy, and respect the rights of consumers, workers and te Tiriti. We would introduce new legislation to make sure there are proper democratic processes governing international treaties, and we would rule out any agreements that allow multinationals to sue our government in an international tribunal.

It’s time to re-think trade agreements so they work for all New Zealanders. It is clear that this won’t happen until we change the government.



  1. What I would like to know is:
    How much has the state spent so far in trying to get TPPA signed?
    All the airfares, accommodation, salaries etc, all to no avail.
    No result.

    Another example of nationals great fiscal handling?

    • Frankly speaking. My opinion on the level of spending on FTAs is not enough because it doesn’t even touch the sides. When we bought down trade tarifs it was advertised as only wonderful things. So lets not be fraudsters

  2. After the events in Ukraine and Crimea and following the bilateral bans on and from Russia I read that Russia said it would ask NZ to supply cheese and other dairy products. No doubt with pressure from Key Fonterra refused to go against the govt and turned down the deal.
    An enormous opportunity went begging in order to back up our US masters and with little regard to the country.
    The following extract is from ‘Farmers Weekly’

    ‘Former Prime Minister John Key recalled then Trade Minister Tim Groser from Moscow on the eve of a free-trade deal with Russia in early 2014 on diplomatic grounds after Kremlin-backed troops invaded Crimea.

    Groser was understood to have further antagonised Moscow by instructing exporters to hold back from filling the gap created by Russia’s ban on food imports from some Western countries ‘

    The crazy thing is that Russia is one of the few countries that ban any products that have GMO’s from being imported which seems a natural fit for our country.
    We don’t seem to have any qualms about dealing with the evil Saudi regime however and in fact turn a blind eye to their human rights abuses in their country and their murder of countless civilians around the world in their endless wars so that we can have a trade agreement with them.

    Opposition parties need to give a clear message to the voters that the Green Party policy mentioned above is supported and promoted in the interests of all NZer’s.

    • +1 JAX – there seems to be no rhyme or reason to National government thinking. Are they just puppets on a string with zero independent thought and even less self preservation in the long term with these agreements and then turning down legitimate trade?

      Are the insane running the asylum?

  3. “It is clear that this won’t happen until we change the government”….that would have to mean that the ‘new’ government is on board…I don’t particularly see Labour as making any great stand in this regard. This isn’t like Anti Smacking or House Insulation Subsidies for Landlords…this is an issue that is dear to the heart of the neo liberals

  4. Quote: “As with the proposed FTA with the EU, the big countries won’t remove their agricultural subsidies they pay to large agribusiness. These are far more damaging to New Zealand farmers than tariffs.”

    Those EU ‘subsidies’ are in forms now, that do not necessarily give local agricultural producers in the EU all that much advantage these days, they get funding to keep their land in a sustainable way and to do other things there now, rather than simply boost output of milk and so.

    And should NZ not endeavour to diversify more, and do more locally, than ship goods half way around the globe, and import stuff from far away, also half way around the globe? Is it not bizarre to import cheese and butter from the EU, beers from Europe, and then send them our butter, cheese, milk powder and lamb in return?

    We are simply adding to the global climate change and warming, by having ships and airplanes travel to and fro, pumping further gases into the atmosphere.

    So fare bio-fuels for air-travel and transport cannot be produced cheaper than the fossil fuel still used, and if bio-fuel will be used in future, the production of crops for that will likely compete with land use required for growing crops for humans and animals.

    To be honest we are in a huge dilemma with the present global trade and transport scenario, we are continuing to pollute massively, also by letting tourism grow, where most come here by air-planes, again polluting the atmosphere.

    We must move away from this, produce more of what we need here, and grow food and resources for primarily local use and consumption. With that we can also use local resources to produce more high tech stuff, e.g. services in IT or whatsoever, and value added goods for some exporting.

    • +1 “We must move away from this, produce more of what we need here, and grow food and resources for primarily local use and consumption. With that we can also use local resources to produce more high tech stuff, e.g. services in IT or whatsoever, and value added goods for some exporting.”

  5. I agree with much said here, but with the useless media and lack of proper information and education, a car obsessed population that stubbornly continues to pollute the atmosphere, to buy and turf away, to continue a highly wasteful one way lifestyle, we will hardly get enough people vote for such an alternative.

    It is an up hill battle, as I see the same as usual here in Auckland day in and out, ignorance rules, it seems, that is for the bulk of the population.

  6. The poor are powerless and the rich get richer. That’s the way it is which is the way the rich scripted it.

    We need a government to fear the citizens. Not to fear the rich.

    Until that fundamental fact changes, nothing at all will change for most of us. Unless you call getting more poor and more powerless is change.

    And based upon that basic premise, when the shit hits the fan, it’ll be the rich that’ll be first in the soup kitchen cue with their soft little hands held out.

    We Kiwis don’t need a change of government as much as a change in actual ‘ being.’ An entire make over in the way we think and act. Or don’t act, as the case may be, and to do that, we must first understand how we found ourselves in this position. Just how did they do it? How did those select few whom we label as neoliberals do what they did, and still do, to us? What mechanism of wilful head fuckery did they use against us, to convince us to abandon our unions, our assets, our homes, lands and our dignity?

    People who demand change and protection from the Abyss just out there need to understand that and that’s what needs to be marketed to the great non voter, the waged slave, the homeless person with the priceless vote. They need to be engaged. That’s where your strengths lie.

    Interestingly, they, the RIght know that. They know that we will, one day, learn how to do that. To as effectively engage the masses as effectively as they’re learned how to disengage them.

    And when that day comes? Well, I’d hate to be a Right Wing thief then, I can tell you that.

  7. ‘Free trade’: corporations and banks are free to exploit people and resources and are free to wreck the planet whilst transferring costs onto taxpayers and the commons.

  8. @savenz – yes, the ‘insane’ are running the asylum.
    Just hopefully not for much longer, as we all may go mad!

    • Too late! The Greens have just sold out! They’re supporting Nick Smiths Pt England Development Enabling Bill! The bill allows the Crown to confiscate public parks,reserves, DoC managed land & National park land to sell to the highest bidder with no RMA,Local Authority, Council regulation and input.

Comments are closed.