Speeches and Articles

TPP: Next steps - the role of the NZ US Council

04 May 2012

On the wall of the gym I attend all too infrequently there is a poster with words that can sometimes be somewhat intimidating:

“The one thing that turns dreams into reality is effort”.

Doubtless these words are meant to inspire one to greater heights of physical endurance and achievement.

It did occur to me the other day while doing my best on the cross-trainer that they could apply equally to the work we have to do with TPP.

TPP represents an ambitious vision.

Completing this negotiation amongst the nine is a hard enough task; expanding it to twelve, and even 21, is even harder.

We heard from NZIER this morning that there is a lot at stake in this negotiation.

Potential gains of $2.1 billion by 2025 are simply too big a prize to ignore – if we are to grow beyond the crisis, both here in New Zealand and elsewhere around the region, we cannot afford to leave this on the table.

We’ve heard a lot today about the negotiating process: the question for us now is what can we do, through the NZ US Council, to realise this vision.

Jim Bolger reminded us this morning that a vision without a plan is a day-dream.

The NZ US Council’s plan to bring home TPP is encapsulated in the “Time is Now” campaign.

That campaign rests on three key pillars.

First, we need to promote and defend the negotiation.

Promoting the negotiation is about bringing it to the attention of business and public stakeholders as we are doing in our conference today.

As Jim said, too often we leave the implementation of FTAs until after the negotiation is concluded, but the work really starts now.
The Council’s role is to provide information which we do on a regular basis directly to our members and notably in advance of each negotiating round and more generally through our website, media commentary and public outreach.

We need to do this in a way that is informed and realistic - we are pursuing TPP not because some text book says we should but because we believe that the benefits of TPP - if successfully concluded - will outweigh the risks. 

Second, we need to co-ordinate New Zealand business contribution to the negotiating process.

This is not about trying to advocate on behalf of specific sectors - this is clearly best left to the sectors themselves and sector organisations.

It is about providing an umbrella for sectors to come together at various times to interact with negotiators.

It is about providing opportunities for joint action alongside other business groups from around the region with shared interests in a successful conclusion to TPP.

This is what leads us to work actively with organisations such as the TPP Business Coalition, led by my friend Cal Cohen, with Okayama-san at the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and with other organisations like the Singapore Business Federation.

With these organisations we have participated in joint seminars and media releases and will continue to do so.

Third, we will need to provide a means of ensuring the successful ratification of TPP once concluded.

Our focus here will both domestically where the treaty making process will require us to participate in the Select Committee process. 

We will also need to be heavily engaged in the United States where the ratification process is likely to be the most complicated.

In the United States we will be working closely with our friends in the US NZ Council and the large number of friends and allies we have come to know through the Partnership Forum process over the last six years.

We will also need to co-ordinate carefully with Ambassador Moore and the team at the New Zealand Embassy.

Bill Maroni has just spoken about plans for the 5th US NZ Partnership Forum to be held next May - this will again be a major undertaking for both Councils and we will need your support to make it a success.

The timing of the Forum will likely make it a critical opportunity to influence the climate in Washington and we will want to make the most of this.

We have before us in the next 2-3 years a triple challenge of continuing to promote the negotiation, co-ordinating the business contribution and ensuring TPP’s successful ratification and implementation.

 It almost goes without saying that the Council can only meet this challenge with the strong financial and moral support of its funders from both business and the Government.

Over the last ten years the Council has built a strong platform for its work in articulating the merits of closer engagement with the United States, strengthening the relationship across the board and now advocating the opportunity posed by TPP.

We are deeply grateful for the strong support we already receive from the Government, business and the wider community.

The time is now to complete this work and take the economic relationship with the United States to a new level.

The Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are trying to build a better environment for trade and investment in the region for the decades to come.

To be successful TPP needs you!

“The one thing that turns dreams into reality is effort”.

Remember that next time you go the gym!

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