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Presentation To The Trade NZ National Export Conf.

Presentation To The Trade NZ National Export Conference

Auckland, 14 May 2002

Stephen Jacobi
Executive Director
New Zealand Trade Liberalisation Network Inc

“Looking For Champions” – Building Effective Business-Government Partnerships For Trade

Thank you for the opportunity to join this panel today.

I congratulate Trade NZ for organising this stimulating conference.

No one in this audience doubts that trade is New Zealand’s lifeblood.

Trade NZ along with MFAT, the Export Institute and the Trade Liberalisation Network all have distinct roles to play in promoting the national export effort and building growth in the economy.

It’s critically import that we get our relationships right if we are going to help business do the business.

I’d like this afternoon to outline the role of the Trade Liberalisation Network and our commitment to partnership with other export organisations.

The TLN was established in October 2001 with the aim of building broad public understanding and support for trade.

We are entirely funded and led by business.

The 28 companies and business organisations that make up the Network account between them for around 70 percent of exports.

They are drawn from manufacturing, agriculture and services sectors and give us nationwide coverage.

They are united in the belief that trade promotes growth and opportunities and makes possible the lifestyles that New Zealanders have become accustomed to.

They are also convinced that more needs to be done by business to improve the quality of the trade debate in this country and to challenge the negative messages of the global anti-globalisation movement and its little echo in New Zealand.

New Zealand has a vital interest in trade reform.

As exporters you know only too well the frustration of having your competitive edge wiped out by a tariff, of having to pay significant amounts to comply with standards and regulations or to see goods held up at port by bureaucratic procedures.

We need to ensure that the Government maintains its active involvement in initiatives to bring down trade barriers and create better trade rules, whether through the World Trade Organisation, APEC or bilateral agreements.

The TLN is looking for champions - champions who are prepared and resourced to stand up, in public, and explain why trade is good for New Zealand and for New Zealanders.

What TLN can provide are resources for the task.

Our web site contains a wealth of topical and relevant information about developments in trade policy.

Today I’m pleased to announce that we have available on line the Trade Liberalisation Resource Base – a comprehensive piece of research undertaken for us by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research which profiles the arguments for and against trade liberalisation.

This will be an invaluable tool in carrying the arguments for trade in the public debate.

A key task for us is to promote the benefits of trade in ways which are meaningful for New Zealanders.

That means understanding New Zealanders’ views on trade and personalising the key messages.

We need to get behind the statistics and tell the stories – the stories of success in overseas markets and new opportunities for New Zealanders and their families.

To do this we need partners from both business and government.

We need to collaborate to convince the New Zealand public and to compete in overseas markets

Last week the TLN and the Export Institute announced our agreement to work closely together to encourage and assist the Government in its vital task of securing more open and secure markets internationally.

This is the sort of arrangement we want to pursue in partnership with other business organisations and with MFAT and Trade NZ.

For many exporters, especially SMEs, there is simply not the time to devote to the detail of the WTO.

Trade liberalisation is a bottom line issue for exporters but most of you are busy enough making sure there is a bottom line at all.

The TLN can serve as a platform for maximising business input into trade policy.

We are most effective when we add value to the work of other organisations and facilitate their interaction with government agencies.

So, to sum up, I have four key messages to leave with you.

First, public perceptions of trade in New Zealand do matter.

In the face of anti-globalisation campaigns, the Government will only maintain its involvement in bringing down barriers to trade if it sees this is being supported by business and the public.

Second, business needs to shape the trade policy agenda.

Business needs to be in the driving seat – otherwise the government will be left to second guess or, worse, rule by decree and some key interests to business could easily be overlooked.

Third, business needs to unite its voice to ensure it is heard both by the Government and the public.

We need to draw together existing organisations to develop synergies and maximise effectiveness.

Last, the TLN provides both resources and a platform for advocacy.

Our website is a must stop shop for those prepared to enter the debate.

I said earlier that the TLN is looking for champions – champions for trade. Where better to look than in this room today.

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