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Goff: Launch of New Zealand Land network

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

01 August 2006

Speech Notes

Launch of New Zealand Land network
LandNZ, Level 9 Baldwins Tower, Wellington

My Ministerial colleague, David Parker, Chief Executive of Positively Wellington Business, Phil Lewin, Patron, Bill Robertson, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Thank you for the invitation to be here at the launch of the Land New Zealand network.

This is an important occasion. The formation of Land New Zealand allows professionals in land and property information and administration to work together to take advantage of commercial opportunities in emerging domestic and overseas markets.

It provides a central information point for overseas groups looking to engage with New Zealand land administration businesses.
It can create overseas recognition of world-leading skills which we have in this area and develop an infrastructure to cope with demand.

Services today make up 28% of New Zealand exports.
While New Zealand continues to rely on and must continue to improve its world class primary sector production, we also need to look to economic transformation. The development of new areas of niche expertise such as biotechnology, agritechnology, creative arts, and ICT and services have a key role to play in our future.

And as our high current account deficit makes absolutely clear, we need to increase both our exports of goods and services and our capacity for import substitution.

No one owes New Zealand a living. We have to go out and work for it.
And in an increasingly globalised world, we have to be efficient competitors in both our domestic and overseas markets.

We are working on a number of fronts to do this. We need to continue to strive to extend access to our goods and services in export markets through multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements. We need to look at how we can constantly adapt our economy at home taking advantage of new opportunities, new services and new products. We need to be innovative and creative, high tech and high skilled if New Zealand is to be a fully employed and high wage economy.

Can I take a couple of minutes to talk about the WTO Doha Development Round.

Failure to reach agreement on progressing the Round in Geneva recently, is a lose-lose situation for the world. Trade liberalisation is not a zero sum game. There are real net benefits. The World Bank estimates that freeing all merchandise trade and eliminating all subsidies could achieve welfare gains of $290 billion a year by 2015.

Almost 45 per cent of these gains would flow to developing countries. Liberalising trade could lift an additional 32 million people out of poverty.
For New Zealand the benefits to it could be as high as the Uruguay Round which was worth just under $1 billion a year to our economy.
For developing countries, as for New Zealand, a successful round is necessary to achieve critical access to the markets of the developed world. It is needed eliminate or reduce export incentives and domestic support which distort trade and tilt the playing field in favour of the already wealthy.

A rules based multilateral system with proper dispute settlement procedures is valuable to everyone, but in particular to smaller and more vulnerable countries. If the WTO Round does not succeed, this system could be at risk.

The current impasse lies in the first instance with the major players,
the G6 including the US, the EU, Brazil and India.
Each has to be prepared to make concessions to get wider gains.
- The EU to allow greater market access for agricultural goods
- The US to cut further agricultural domestic support
- Brazil and India to allow greater market access for non-agricultural goods.

To date the political will and the flexibility to close the gaps between the positions of the major players has not been there, even though our judgement has been that those gaps reflect political rather than economic calculations.

The Round is not 'dead' but it is in serious trouble.
There remains a small window of opportunity probably between November and April next year. Beyond that, the Round could be delayed by years.

It is not yet obvious what will persuade the major players to offer the changes which will allow the Round to progress.
Pascal Lamy hopes that the northern hemisphere summer break will cause them to reflect on the consequences of failure. We have seen negotiations come back from apparent collapse in the past, and we now need to work to do so again.

Since the breakdown, I have been on the phone to key Green Room members such as Susan Schwab, Peter Mandelson, Mark Vaile, Pascal Lamy and others and I will continue to work with others to see if the process can be restarted.

At the same time New Zealand has never put all of its trade interests in one basket. Our strategy has been to actively pursue bilateral and plurilateral FTA negotiations. That will continue.

We are committed to negotiating comprehensive FTAs.
We look to create high quality, broad agreements that cover goods and services, as well as investment, government procurement, competition policy, rules of origin and economic cooperation.

Our largest commitment on the bilateral front at present is the negotiation with China, with whom we are currently engaging in the eighth round of bilateral talks in Beijing today. The talks are making progress and were given a boost by Premier Wen who during his visit to New Zealand spoke in favour of 'a comprehensive agreement which was of high quality'.

This is China's first negotiation with an OECD country, which presents real challenges, but it was an opportunity which we needed to take up – better first than fifty first..

We are also engaged in discussions over free trade with Asean, Malaysia, the Pacific Forum and the six Gulf Cooperation Council States.

Other countries of interest include the United States, Mexico, Japan and Korea. Progress towards free trade with some of those countries will however be more a medium than a short term objective.
Regionally, we are looking at APEC and the new East Asia Summit to explore the potential of these organisations to help clear away barriers to trade.

While FTA's are important in opening the doors to new trading opportunities, it is at least as important that New Zealand companies have the capabilities to walk through those doors if we are to take advantage of the market opportunities an FTA opens up.

David Skilling and the New Zealand Institute pose some interesting questions about how New Zealand needs to overcome the twin barriers of geographic distance and small scale to meet this challenge.

Export markets are vital for us as a small country if we are to achieve economies of scale, and as a result to lower production costs. There are also high productivity gains to be won by accessing new ideas, new skills and new technology in overseas markets.

The private and public sectors need to work collaboratively to achieve this.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have a key part to play here.
Its role is to work strategically with New Zealand companies to improve their export capability and international competitiveness.
It provides advice, training, mentoring, funding and business and market development assistance. Its offshore staff focus on key areas where New Zealand can be expected to succeed internationally, identifying and developing relevant market and investment opportunities.

In conclusion, I congratulate the companies here tonight which are foundation members of Land NZ. The steps you are taking collectively will enhance the opportunities in your field to develop off shore markets, and gain recognition of New Zealand as being innovative, pragmatic and able to offer sustainable solutions.

I wish you and Land NZ well for the future.

ENDS

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