Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Singapore agreement debate and vote speech notes

Hon. Jim Sutton


Singapore Closer Economic Partnership agreement debate and vote speech notes

Mr Speaker, I believe the agreement represents an excellent opportunity for New Zealand and I recommend that the House support it.

This agreement will put our trade, economic and investment relationship with Singapore, one of the most dynamic Asian economies, on a new and firmer footing. The agreement, based on a modern and forward-looking body of trade rules, will provide for more secure and open access for New Zealand exports of goods and services to that market.

It will deliver immediate benefits and these will grow over time. The Agreement we will put in place a new comprehensive partnership with Singapore with provisions on services, investment, competition policy, government procurement, customs co-operation, the reductionof technical barriers and compliance costs for business.

All remaining tariffs will be eliminated reciprocally on entry into force. This means Singapore will remove its high tariffs on New Zealand beer exports.

In return, New Zealand will eliminate all tariffs on goods of Singapore origin - although I note that New Zealand already accords duty free treatment to over 95% of imports from Singapore.

A new provision is the 40% ex factory cost threshold which will determine origin of goods for tariff preference. This is a valuable precedent. It sets a new benchmark which will assist our export effort.

The Agreement sets a new standard by comprehensively outlawing export subsidies on all goods including agricultural products. Let our other trading partners in Europe and North America take note!

Trade in services will be progressively liberalised. Services generate 80 per cent of all New Zealand jobs, creating $8 billion in exports. The export of services is an increasingly important dimension of NZ's international trade profile.

There will be improved access for NZ services exporters to a wide range of Singapore's services sectors including: telecommunications, financial, educational, engineering and architecture services. Singapore provides a shop window for NZ to sell its services further abroad. A new provision to deal with recognition of qualifications will assist New Zealand services exporters to access Singapore.

The provisions to address technical, sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to trade will reduce compliance costs. We will have more secure access to the Singapore government procurement market. Our respective investment regimes will be made transparent and more certain. Barriers to investment will be gradually eliminated.

In short, the Agreement is good news for New Zealand; it will encourage trade in goods and services, promote investment, create jobs especially in service industries, and assist our economic development.

Importantly as well, the CEP sends a very positive signal to our other Asian trading partners about our willingness to engage with them.

Conversely, failure to ratify this Agreement would send a very negative signal and be seriously prejudicial to our trade and economic interests generally.

Let me now comment on some of the criticisms that are being levelled, misguidedly, against this Agreement.

We are told that as a result of the CEP the NZ textile, clothing and footwear industries will 'simply disappear'. This is rubbish and irresponsible scare-mongering.

Singapore is not a significant producer and exporter of these items.There will be no explosion of imports from Singapore after the agreement comes into effect. Less than 0.3% of our total textiles, clothing and footwear imports come from Singapore, and accordingly the impact on our protected industries from tariff elimination (for Singapore alone, NOT the whole world as some seem to believe) will be minimal.

There has been a lot of loose comment about imports from low wage processing zones such as those in Indonesia, taking an unintended advantage of the CEP's tariff preferences.

The Agreement provides that the New Zealand Customs Service will be able to prevent circumvention or fraud so that third countries do not derive an unintended benefit from the elimination of tariffs. Unless ourCustoms is satisfied as to origin, the concession will not apply.

I note, Mr Speaker, that the Customs Service provided an assurance to the Select Committee that the integrity of its verification and monitoring process can be maintained and that the Select Committee will, over the first two years, receive six monthly reports on verification and enforcement of the rules.

Another criticism is that Singapore might set up a private University here and remit the profits overseas. Actually there is nothing to stop an overseas University doing that today - they don't need a CEP to do so - but if they did, they still have to adhere to NZ rules and regulations.

What are the critics afraid of? Competition? From courses that NZ students will want to attend? Let's be clear - the CEP does not oblige NZ to extend state subsidies to private Singaporean institutions.

And what about regional and local government. The Select Committee's report notes that the CEP 'has no direct impact on local government under NZ law'. The CEP doesn't prevent regional and local governments from buying locally if they wish - it provides only that a NZ Government cannot force them to buy locally. So where is the problem?

And sovereignty? The claim that we are renouncing our sovereignty by negotiating the CEP is rubbish. NZ is party to hundreds of international trade, economic, environmental, labour and other treaties which impose rights and obligations on us. We have signed up to them because successive governments have concluded that they are in our interests. We can withdraw from them in the future in the unlikely event we decide they are not in our interests.

Far from undermining our sovereignty, our membership of such agreements enables us to have a voice in the international community, to advance and protect our national interests. They make us stronger, more independent, self confident and prosperous.

The CEP is a bilateral Agreement. Any other agreements which New Zealand might seek to enter into will be negotiated separately, with fresh negotiating mandates from the Government. But of course, the CEP with Singapore is available as a model. Others can sign up to it should they wish, provided they have our and Singapore's approval.

Most of us realise we can do better and be more productive when we concentrate on what we do best. It's the same for countries. But we have to do that through trade.

The CEP Agreement will send a positive signal to our business community about this Government's commitment to prise open export markets and promote economic growth.

I would encourage the House to indicate its support for the Agreement, in order that we can complete our approval processes, and pass the necessary amending legislation, so this historic CEP between New Zealand and Singapore can enter into force on 1 January 2001.

Office of Hon Jim Sutton


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Another Reason To Loathe HR Departments (And On The Teachers Strike)

This morning’s news item about Police emergency call centre staff turning up for work while they’re sick – because they’re afraid their sick leave statistics will be used against them, and their jobs put in jeopardy – is not an isolated case...

Obviously, sick people shouldn’t be being treated by doctors and nurses who are themselves sick and potentially infectious. Similarly, Police emergency calls also need to be fielded by people who’re feeling alert, and on top of their game. More>>

 
 

MPs' Computers To Be Searched: Inquiry Into Leak On Simon Bridges' Expenses

An inquiry has been launched to find out who leaked the National Party's expenses to the media... Parliament's speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen's Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills. More>>

ALSO:

Teachers Strike: Nationwide Rallies And Marches

Teachers and principals voted for a full day strike to be held on 15 August to send a strong message to the Government that the current collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education would not fix the crisis in teaching. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: City Council Ends Its Support For Jackson’s Movie Museum

The Wellington City Council and the Movie Museum Limited have today announced a mutually-agreed parting of the ways for a joint project between the Council’s Convention Centre and TMML’s Movie Museum... Both parties remain optimistic for the future of their respective projects. More>>

Pay Equity: Historic Settlement For Education Support Workers

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and the Ministry of Education today signed Terms of Settlement to address a pay equity claim for 329 support workers who work with very young children in early childhood and primary schools. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Stereotypes About Jacinda Ardern

Routinely, female politicians get depicted as either show ponies or battle axes, with little room for anything else in between. .. More>>

Weekend Interviews: "Discriminatory And Racist" Aussie Deportations

The former president of Australia’s Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs says deportations have risen dramatically in Australia since 2014 when ministers and ministerial delegates were given the power to cancel visas - and half of those being deported are New Zealanders. "These are massive numbers, actually escalating dramatically."... More>>

ALSO:

Legal Challenge: Prisoner Has 9 Boxes Of Documents Seized

Human rights organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa says a prisoner they advocate for has had 9 boxes of legal documents seized from him just days before his case against the Department of Corrections was to be heard. More>>

Single-Use Plastic Bags: Govt To Phase Them Out

Single-use plastic shopping bags will be phased out over the next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages