National is trying to position itself as the only party
which will deliver major free trade agreements, saying that
Labour's trade policies will be scuppered by any potential
At a speech to Marlborough winegrowers in Blenheim yesterday,
he jumped on Opposition promises to restrict land and house
sales to foreigners as evidence that National was the only
party which remained "open to the world".
He said free trade deals were the path to lifting incomes for
New Zealanders, and reiterated National's commitment to a
high-quality Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Mr Key described the 12-country TPPA as "the 400-pound
gorilla" because it included economic giants Japan and the
Labour has previously said New Zealand will benefit from the
TPPA, but has not taken a formal position and faces
resistance from unions.
Mr Key said: "Labour can't form a government without being
with the Greens or [Internet Mana]. And we know the Greens
are totally opposed to TPP.
"I think it is a fair representation that only a National
Government will deliver a free trade agreement with the
Labour's trade spokesman Phil Goff said Mr Key's claims were
He said Labour had a strong track record, having signed off
the China FTA, and would push ahead with the TPPA "if it
preserved our bottom lines" and guaranteed "real progress on
If a Labour-led Government helped secure a high-quality TPPA,
he said National would be foolish not to support it from the
cross-benches when it was ratified.
Some opponents have criticised the secrecy of the TPP talks,
and are unsettled by its provision for companies to take
direct legal action against governments through closed-door
Mr Key said the debate about the agreement was clouded by
He said every trade agreement was negotiated behind closed
doors and then ratified through Parliament.
"If we go out and say 'Here's New Zealand's bottom lines',
then obviously everybody ... knows where they can push us to.
"More often we achieve a lot better than we might have been
prepared to accept."
New Zealand is also seeking a free trade agreement with Korea
and with Gulf states. Mr Key said local meat producers alone
paid $90 million in tariffs to get their products into Korea.
As a signal of its National's "openness to the world", Mr Key
announced a commitment to put $10 million over five years
into helping more New Zealand high school students learn the
languages of this country's Asian trading partners -
Mandarin, Korean and Japanese.
"Our next generation need to be able to work in different
cultural environments as our international and trading links
grow, particularly with Asian countries," he said.
Mr Key released the party's trade and foreign affairs policy
at the Winegrowers Conference, at the heart of which is a
target of increasing the ratio of exports to GDP from 30 per
cent to 40 per cent by 2025.