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Goff: Speech to US Partnership Forum, Washington

Hon Phil Goff
Leader of the NZ Labour Party


Co-Chairs Susan Schwab, Cal Dooly, Jim Bolger and Mike Moore; Ministers Murray McCully and Tim Groser; and Parliamentary colleague Maryan Street.

It is three and a half years since we were here in Washington for the first US/NZ Partnership Forum and we can celebrate the forward movement made in the relationship between our two countries over this period of time.

Our two countries are old friends.

Notwithstanding the differences in size and power of our nations, we have in common that we are among a small group of countries that have consistently maintained their commitment to and practice of democracy since or before the 19th Century.

Joint commitment to freedom of speech and elections, the rule of law and the upholding of human rights are important shared values.

We have often fought alongside each other, with the first US troops deployed in the Great War in 1917, serving alongside New Zealanders at Passchendeale, and New Zealanders of my parents’ generation – especially the women – remembering with affection the US servicemen who departed from our shores in the Second World War to fight in the Pacific.

Following that war, the United States and New Zealand shared common ideals for the creation of multilateral institutions to shape a new and better world.

President Obama in his address to the General Assembly the week before last quoted President Franklin D Roosevelt:
“The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation … It cannot be the force of large nations or of small nations. It must be a force which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world”.

Our then Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party was Peter Fraser. Speaking to the plenary session of the San Francisco conference in 1945 where the United Nations was born, he set out New Zealand’s position,

“I am speaking for a country which although small in area and population, has made great sacrifices in two world wars. I speak for the New Zealanders who died and are buried thousands of miles from their own land in the cause they believed to be just. I speak for the New Zealanders yet to be born. It is my deep fear that if this fleeting moment is not captured the world will again relapse into a period of disillusionment, despair and doom. This must not happen”.

We can still take guidance from both leaders.

And there are other relevant lessons.

Recognizing the leadership failures of the Great Depression Roosevelt set out an ambitious internationalist agenda which recognised the shortcomings of protectionism and failure to cooperate towards common economic and financial goals internationally. His successors developed the Marshall Plan, the Bretton Woods institutions (International Monetary Fund and World Bank) and a new set of rules for Global Trade.

These policies and new institutions such as the GATT and then the WTO which promoted an open international economy were important in response to the recent global recession which avoided the ‘beggar thy neighbour’ and retrenchment mistakes of the Great Depression.

In the search for both a more open international economy, and security and stability, New Zealand and the United States have had much in common.

It was a privilege for me as Minister of Trade to work closely with Susan Schwab. We shared the same objectives of achieving an ambitious outcome from the Doha Round of the WTO.

Shared a belief that openness to trade and competition fuels economic dynamism and innovation raises productivity and standards of living globally.

Susan and I worked together for an outcome to Doha which could be measured in new trade flows in Agriculture, NAMA and services and new access opportunities which were real.

We agreed on freeing up trade in environmental goods and services and on the need to prohibit subsidies on fisheries, both to promote sustainability.

In July last year we very nearly achieved an outcome on the Doha Round in Geneva. I know that Tim Groser now is very keen to work collaboratively with Ron Kirk. Only the United States can lead the WTO towards achieving the conclusion of the Round next year.

As Pascal Lamy has said, more than 80% of issues are resolved, and the outcome of not concluding the Round when the developing world and indeed the whole world will benefit so much from it cannot be contemplated.

The other critical area where Susan and I reached agreement was that we should commence negotiations towards a Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, based on the P4 Agreement in place between New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile.

This is a unique high quality Free Trade Agreement which spans Asia, the Pacific and the Americas.

We believe that the TPP is a model for a 21st Century regional trade agreement.

Strategically the TPP offers the US a way to ensure it has an influential role in Asia-Pacific regional architecture and provides a building block for further trade liberalisation.

The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the dynamo of the world economies.

The 20th C belonged to the Atlantic, but the 21st C will be dominated by the Pacific. Asia Pacific contains half the world’s population. 8 of the 10 world’s fastest growing economies are in Asia and half of the top 10 trading partners of the United States. The size of Asia’s middle class will by 2015 rival that of North America and Europe to reach an estimated 400-800 million.

Asia Pacific already represents 60% of global GDP and around half of all international trade.

NZ is already benefitting from being the first OECD country to sign a free trade agreement with China which eliminates tariffs on 96% of our trade. We also concluded last year a free trade with ASEAN and Australia which will cut tariffs on our exports by 99%. Our trade with China and India last year rose by 60% and 100% respectively.

For the US, the TPPA is an efficient mechanism for achieving high-quality and consistent FTAs in the region.

For us a decision by the US to join provides the current partnership with critical mass and creates the impetus for a further expansion of membership.

Already Australia, Peru and Vietnam have indicated a keenness to join.

The ultimate effect will be that countries, such as Japan, which have been reluctant to enter free trade agreements for reasons such as agricultural protectionism, will come to the position that they cannot afford not to join.

As a bottom up initiative, the partnership will be based on countries willing and able to join a high quality comprehensive FTA, without being held back by having to negotiate to the lowest common denominator.

A TPP would complement, not undermine, the WTO Doha Round negotiations.

It may have the stimulatory effect on the Doha Round that the creation of APEC had in spurring other countries to complete the Uruguay Round.

I am hopeful and confident that these factors will encourage the Obama Administration to commit in due course to progress the TPP agreement.

Other forums exist which could lead to greater economic and trade integration in Asia-Pacific.

The East Asian Summit involving ASEAN, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India contemplates a CEPEA a ‘Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia’.

This however currently excludes the US and we and other countries in the region believe that the US has an integral role to play in the region and needs to be included.

Through APEC, New Zealand and the US have both promoted the concept of a Free Trade area for Asia-Pacific but present challenges mean that such an agreement including the US and China and Taiwan, is not an immediate prospect.

In our view, that makes a Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement as a pathfinder the most achievable and realistic option.

In my comments today, I have focussed on trade but I want to come back to the broader areas of the US/NZ relationship and the potential for building on cooperation between us.

Climate change is an area on which we have cooperated since 2003, and where changes by the Obama Administration open up opportunities for working even closer together on ways to reduce agricultural emissions, on an emissions trading scheme and research into climate change.

The Andrill programme in Antarctica has been a huge area where we have collaborated together, as indeed we have in Antarctica as a whole. There are no two countries which work more closely together on that continent than ours. It was a real privilege to have travelled to Antarctica with Sir Edmund Hillary a couple of years ago where he attracted a full house to his talk at McMurdo Station, but gave locals a dressing down about the concept of building a flagged ‘roadway’ to the South Pole.

Science and technology and education, particularly through the Fulbright programme, have provided further opportunities for cooperation and for the building of people to people relationships.

Last but not least is the area of defence and security cooperation.

As a small nation, New Zealand nevertheless has niche capabilities which can be advantageous to larger partners like the US.

In the Pacific, our efforts in peacekeeping, development, good governance and disaster relief have been complementary to US work in the wider region.

In Afghanistan, we were one of the first countries in December 2001 in with our special forces to confront the international threat posed by Al Qaeda, the third country to set up a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, which, six years on is still regarded as a model for other countries.

We have been active campaigners for non-proliferation through the Proliferation Security Initiative support for the Six Party Talks on North Korea, and support for Security Council Resolutions on the DPRK and Iran. The Obama Administration has created new opportunities for cooperation on disarmament and we hope to work with the US on advancing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We will not always agree. We are both sovereign and independent countries which believe in pluralism. However there is increasing maturity on both sides to accept differences and not allow our relationship to be defined by our differences rather than what we have in common.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, echoing former US Ambassador Bill McCormick last year, our relationship has never been better.

I believe that with our strong shared values, and our strong people to people ties, we can work together ever more constructively to shape a better world.

I thank the US/NZ and the NZ/US Councils for their efforts in organising this forum as an effective mechanism to contribute to this goal: Stephen Jacobi, Gabrielle Rush, Sasha Maher and John Mullen and his team.


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