April 7, 2008
China FTA highlights need for investment - EPMU
The free trade agreement signed with China today will offer potential economic benefits to New Zealand but will increase the need for Kiwi businesses to invest in skills and equipment, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
The EPMU is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing union and represents members in industries affected by tariff reductions and temporary migrant labour.
But EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says his union is comfortable with the FTA.
“Our major concerns about the free trade agreement with China were around its effect on New Zealand manufacturing and the temporary movement of labour into New Zealand, both of which have been addressed.
“The agreement on a timetable to phase-out tariffs on Chinese manufactured goods into New Zealand by 2012 is actually better than what there would have been without an agreement and provides a bit of breathing space for manufacturers to adapt to the change.
“The challenge now is for business to make the kind of investment in skills and equipment needed to turn New Zealand into a high-skill, high-wage economy.
“On the issue of temporary labour we believe a good balance has been struck. The limit of 1000 Chinese migrants for up to 3 years is a sensible control that should help relieve skills shortages without putting downward pressure on New Zealand wages.
The EPMU will continue to support the Council of Trade Unions and the international trade union movement in their efforts to support the right of Chinese workers to organise in independent trade unions.