Parliament

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

 

Dunne Speaks: Trade is part of our economic DNA

Dunne Speaks: Trade is part of our economic DNA


8 October 2015

When I left university I went to work for the Department of Trade and Industry, in import licensing. I was then a true believer in protectionism, in regulating the flow and nature of imports and consequently the choices available to and standard of living of New Zealanders, in the wider interests of encouraging domestic industry, promoting economic stability and maintaining reasonable living standards.

However, I was quickly disillusioned. Not only was the policy ineffective, it was unevenly and incompetently applied, it was fundamentally unfair, and certainly did nothing to build efficient domestic import substitution industries, or to keep unemployment, inflation and the balance of payments under control. Import licensing was widely abused, and served only to entrench the privilege of the wealthy import warehouses and selected merchants.

That early exposure to the failure of protectionism and the folly of trying to insulate the domestic economy from the rest of the world was quickly reinforced by the increasingly erratic economic policies of the Muldoon Government of the time. As a latent liberal, I became an enthusiastic convert to free trade and open market economic policies, and have not wavered in that view over time. But I also learnt that there is no economic nirvana, that every system is far from perfect, and that governments have to strive constantly to uphold the best overall interest of their citizens, to achieve a form of economic justice.



It is a short step from there to the Trans Pacific Partnership, which had its seeds in New Zealand’s economic reforms of the 1980s, including the initiation of the Uruguay Round of talks for freer world trade. That led to the formation of the World Trade Organisation to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that had regulated world trade since the 1940s.

From the time of the formation of the then nascent European Economic Community (EEC) in the late 1950s, through to the more fully blown version of the European Union in the 1980s and 1990s, the focus has been on economic and political integration as the bulwark of broad stability. Other agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, and our own Closer Economic Relations agreement with Australia, show the moves to eliminate trade barriers have been consistent and widespread over a number of years now. They have been reinforced by a series of bilateral arrangements (like the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, for example).

Against that backdrop, the momentum to develop a broader Trans Pacific Partnership was inevitable, its ambitious nature notwithstanding. From New Zealand’s perspective, it completes the process the Labour Government began in the 1980s through its domestic economic and social reforms, and moves through the Uruguay Round to liberalise world trade. (In many senses, it is the Lange Government that deserves the kudos for the TPP deal, yet its survivors seem hellbent on running away and hiding from that achievement.)

Since frozen lamb was first exported from Port Chalmers to Britain in 1882, New Zealand has been on a quest for economic security, for stable and reliable markets for our products. For almost a century that quest was satisfied by the guaranteed British market, but after it joined the EEC in the 1970s, we had to rapidly diversify our trade through the pursuit of bilateral (and now through the TPP multilateral) free trade agreements. Either way, trade has long been part of our economic DNA, a point today’s economic revisionists would do well to remember.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK


Gordon Campbell: On Our Wild West Banking Culture

David Hisco’s nine year stint as CEO of the ANZ bank (while his expense claim eccentricities went by unbothered by board oversight) has been a weird echo of the nine years of social neglect by the previous National government.

The same Sir John Key who denied there was a housing crisis in New Zealand – and who sold his own beach house to Hisco – seems to have also been living in denial in his role as ANZ’s chairman of the board. More>>

 

"Population Density": Stats NZ, Phone Companies To Track People's Movements

Stats NZ is partnering with cellphone companies to launch a new way of tracking people's movements every hour. More>>

ALSO:

QS University Rankings: NZ Ranks Well "Despite Resourcing Constraints"

New Zealand universities continue to do well in international rankings, with the release of the 2020 QS world rankings showing that all eight universities remain in the world’s top 500. More>>

ALSO:

Mosque Attacks: 21 Month Prison Sentence For Sharing Live Stream Video

A Christchurch man who admitted redistributing the livestream video of the mosque killings has been sentenced to 21 months in prison. More>>

ALSO:

Operation Burnham Inquiry: Afghan Villagers Pull Out

The Afghan villagers involved with the inquiry into Operation Burnham say they have lost faith in the process and will no longer take part. More>>

ALSO:

Child 'Uplifts': Children’s Commissioner To Conduct Review

“At the time of the attempted uplift from Hawke’s Bay Maternity Hospital at the beginning of May, our Office shared our views on the critical importance of the mother-child relationship, and the fact that this relationship is denied to too many Māori children”, says the Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft. More>>

ALSO:

Fluro Logo, Definitely Not Racism, Activist Judges: Act Has Conference

“Finally, New Zealanders will have the right to challenge bad laws in court. If the courts find that a law hasn’t been made in accordance with the basic principles of good lawmaking, it can be declared invalid." More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels