PM, Parker pursue trade aims

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker wants a new progressive and inclusive trade agenda, laying the groundwork for a refreshed strategy, while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeks to accelerate free trade talks with the EU.

Consultations on the "Trade for All Agenda" would start in the coming months, Mr Parker said in a statement.

The strategy’s principles are to a generate genuine public conversation, ongoing consultation with Maori, creating economic opportunities for more people, supporting international rules-based systems, backing multilateral negotiations as the best option followed by open plurilateral talks, and enhancing New Zealand’s economic integration in Asia-Pacific and economic connections to other regions.

The Government wants trade policy to support environmental issues, protecting New Zealanders’ health, labour rights, gender equality, indigenous rights, small and medium-sized enterprise participation in global markets, inclusive regional economic growth, protecting traditional knowledge and maintaining the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, a February 7 Cabinet committee minute shows.

David Parker
David Parker
"In the current global environment, with a rise in protectionism and fears of trade wars, fair international trade rules are more important than ever for ensuring that our trading partners treat us fairly," Mr Parker said.

The Labour-led Government has been seeking wide public engagement in trade issues, and Mr Parker has been touring the country, explaining the benefits of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade and investment pact that became totemic of corporate greed among anti-globalisation campaigners, who saw investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions as undermining national sovereignty.

Under Ms Ardern’s administration, the Government has ordered trade negotiators that future free trade agreements do not include ISDS provisions, aligning with European policymakers, who prefer a new public court system over the clauses.

Ms Ardern is in the United Kingdom for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and then to Europe, where she will press for a free trade agreement with the regional bloc in meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

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