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Health of economies depends on trade, Minister Nanaia Mahuta says

Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Nanaia Mahuta has made her inaugural foreign policy speech to the diplomatic corps.


Trade with foreign partners will drive an increase in job numbers, wages and innovation and production, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta says.

Speaking to New Zealand-based diplomats in Paihia on Thursday evening, Minister Mahuta promoted the benefits of trade. The inaugural foreign policy speech was part of Waitangi celebrations and one of the biggest nights of the diplomatic calendar.

“New Zealand is, and has always been, a trading nation. Today our commitment to free trade and open markets is reflected in our chairing this year of APEC.”

APEC is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; made up of 21 member economies with the goal of promoting growth through sustainable, balanced and inclusive trade.

Given APEC economies now contribute to 50% of world product trade and 40% of world service trade, APEC’s work has the potential to be far-reaching.

Minister Mahuta said that as the host for APEC 2021 New Zealand needed to work with other economies to champion trade that had a positive effect on the region, while also helping New Zealand businesses adapt to more sustainable practices.

“Through APEC we will lead work to build regional resilience through the sustainable expansion of trade; and supporting our exporters to make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“A rules-based trade system is central as we work through our COVID-19 response. Trade delivers more jobs, better wages, and drives innovation and productivity. Our outward looking focus means that we continue to seek out opportunity in this challenging environment.”

Indigenous economies could also play a significant part in APEC’s success.

“We will work with APEC economies to facilitate trade in a list of environmental goods and services and explore the new opportunities offered by digital trade. We are also keen to develop an indigenous trade cooperation instrument with willing APEC partners,” Minister Mahuta said.

Last week, a report by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in partnership with Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL) put the value of the Māori economy at $68.7 billion. Since 2013 Māori businesses activity has increased in a range of industries, including construction, retail trade, and services such as information media. The report’s date was 2018, to align with Census data, but COVID-19 had caused delays.

New Zealand benefits greatly from trade with its APEC partners.

New Zealand has Free Trade Agreements with 18 of the 20 other APEC economies; 13 of New Zealand’s 15 largest trading partners are APEC members, with the UK and Germany the only exceptions.

APEC economies represented 60 per cent of world GDP and 48 per cent of world trade in 2018.

As a result of APEC’s work, growth has soared in the region, with real GDP increasing from US$19 trillion in 1989 to US$46.9 trillion in 2018. Meanwhile, residents of the Asia-Pacific saw their per capita income rise by 74 per cent.

- Read the Minister’s full speech here.

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