Need to build support for free trade seen

  • 04/02/2018
Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker.
Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker. Photo credit: Simon Wong/Newshub.

New Zealand's Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker is pushing a message of inclusiveness in a bid to build public support for freer trade after meeting APEC business leaders.

The APEC Business Advisory Council is holding its first meeting of the year in Auckland, which concludes on Sunday.

The council is the voice of business in APEC. In their annual report to APEC leaders, released Sunday, members called on leaders to show leadership on further liberalisation of trade in goods and services as well as investment flows.

The report also highlights the potential of the digital economy and highlights the imperative to help women participate more broadly in our economies, and to help micro, small and medium enterprises to participate in trade.

When Mr Parker engaged with the APEC business leaders on Friday, he underscored the need for business to help re-build public consensus for trade, which has eroded around the world.

Mr Parker called for emphasis on labour, small business, women and the environment.

The meeting came just two weeks after the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, formerly known as the TPP, was finalised at a meeting of trade officials in Tokyo. The 11 Pacific Rim countries were expected to sign a tweaked agreement on March 8 in Chile.

Mr Parker, a member of a Labour Party-led Government, said many people had felt left out by globalisation and were worried about a concentration in wealth.

These concerned had to be recognised and addressed, he said.

Separately, APEC senior officials met informally on Sunday in Auckland to discuss broader governance issues and the post-2020 vision for the organisation.

This year, APEC was prioritising the digital economy that enables small businesses to benefit from international trade," said Ambassador Ivan Pomeleu who is the 2018 chair of the APEC senior officials.