Amid rising fears the US will spark a new global trade war, a revised Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal has been signed this morning in Chile.
Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson
The deal, which survived the United States' withdrawal last year, will eliminate over 95 percent of all tariffs in a grouping worth $US10 trillion.
It was signed by Trade Minister David Parker in Chile shortly after 7am (NZT) today.
Its supporters argue it will boost incomes and jobs, while critics have said New Zealanders will lose the right to make decisions in their interests.
Chilean foreign minister Heraldo Munoz said the agreement was a strong signal "against protectionist pressures, in favour of a world open to trade".
Speaking on Morning Report earlier this week, Mr Parker said the new Pacific-wide agreement was a beacon for open markets at a time when countries were increasingly looking inwards.
"It's a worrisome trend and it's one of the reasons why the [agreement] has become more important over the last year, because there are these protectionist measures starting to pop up in quite a widespread way around the world."
The gains are relatively modest on paper, adding between $NZ1.2 billion and $4bn dollars, or up to one percent, to New Zealand's economy over time.
Trade supporters have said that in reality, free trade deals usually delivered much higher returns.
Murray Taggart, the chairman of red meat processor and exporter Alliance Group, said New Zealand could not afford to be on the outside looking in.
"We've had significant tariff disadvantage relative to Australia going into Japan, so you've seen New Zealand beef imports have been impacted significantly and Australia has really grabbed the market."
The Labour Party, which rejected the previous TPP deal, has trumpeted the revised agreement as an improvement.
Opponents disagree, arguing it is essentially the same deal the previous National government signed at SkyCity in Auckland in 2016.
Then, thousands marched around the country in opposition.
Two years on, times have changed - a small, but dedicated, crowd of some 80 people turned up to parliament yesterday to urge politicians to reject the TPP and other secret trade deals.
It's Our Future spokesperson Oliver Hailes, accused Labour of bamboozling people, saying the fight was not over.
There is still a way to go - the new TPP does not come into force until it is ratified by at least half of the 11 nations.
In New Zealand, the agreement will go through a select committee process, where the public will get to have their say.