Stephen Jacobi: The time for the CPTPP is now

Stephen Jacobi: The time for the CPTPP is now
Photo credit: Reuters.

OPINION:It takes the power of a good idea.

A “comprehensive and progressive” version of Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will be signed by eleven members of the original fellowship in Santiago on March 8.

The good idea is that trade and investment can be boosted by more open markets and better trade rules.

Some mistakenly see trade as a “zero sum game” – we can only win if others lose, or if others win we must be losing.

New Zealand has very little to do to implement CPTPP, which preserves much of the old TPP.

The original text and list of 22 amendments can be viewed on the MFAT web site.

What CPTPP does for New Zealand is to:

  • Open up new markets by cutting the tariffs that our exporters have to pay, especially in four economies – Japan, Mexico, Canada and Peru

  • Tackle non-tariff barriers, which add costs and make things more difficult for exporters

  • Provide for easier trade in smart, innovative, knowledge-heavy sectors such as IT, consultancy, transport, logistics, distribution or computer services

  • Include rules to promote an open digital economy, the next frontier of trade

  • Include specific commitments to make it easier for small firms to do business

  • Set up a framework of other rules including good environmental practices and decent labour standards – which go further than any trade agreement to date.

Critically, CPTPP fully preserves the New Zealand Government’s right to regulate in the national interest in areas like public health, the environment and to meet its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

The agreement continues to offer rights to foreign investors, including a means of settling legitimate disputes where those rights are infringed, but the scope for such actions is now more limited.

The Government sees this agreement as a forerunner of a new progressive and inclusive trade agenda.

This too is a good idea - to make trade work better for everyone and to improve the way these agreements are negotiated.

TPP has been a long time coming.

Despite the long shadow cast over the international trading system by a certain Administration in the United States, the time for TPP is surely now.

Stephen Jacobi is Executive Director of the NZ International Business Forum.

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