Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Europe puts labour, environmental standards on the table

Europe puts labour, environmental standards on the table in free trade talks

By Paul McBeth

Oct. 31 (BusinessDesk) - Europe wants to develop a new version of gold-plated trade deals in its negotiations with New Zealand and Australia to deliver tangible benefits for the general population as the tide goes out on globalisation.

Newly-appointed Trade Minister David Parker met with members of the European Parliament's trade committee during their two-day trip to New Zealand as a precursor to the formal negotiations, and both sides are keen on pursuing a "comprehensive trade agreement" that goes beyond removing tariffs and quotas.

Europe will pursue areas such as labour and environmental standards in the deal with New Zealand, as well as developing a public court to resolve disputes as an alternative to Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms. Committee chair Bernd Lange says they want to deliver a better deal than the stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The committee members met with Parker, who Lange said "has a clear perspective for trade policy" and that they were "convinced he's really open-minded". Parker told RNZ's Morning Report the deal could create a "gold standard" agreement by including terms to protect labour and environmental standards and introduce a new enforcement mechanism that could then be rolled out into other agreements.

Europe plans to use its recent deal with Canada as a blueprint of a "really modern trade agreement" that's based on shared values, protects the ability to regulate public services, and is underpinned by a rules-based framework.

"It is different kind of trade agreement we want," Lange told BusinessDesk in an interview.

New Zealand's sticking point in trade negotiations is typically in agriculture, however Lange anticipates a compromise will be found, pointing to Europe's ability to find common ground with Canada, which has traditionally protected its domestic dairy and poultry industries.

Lange said there was a gap between the parties on labour standards because New Zealand hasn't ratified two of the International Labour Organisation's eight fundamental conventions, which he said were "universally accepted" and essential to making sure the wider population reap the benefits of free trade.

"Freedom of association and collective bargaining are essential to getting a fair share of the benefit, therefore ratification and implementation of universal labour law is key for a trade agreement," he said.

Europe has Asia Pacific firmly in its sights after resetting its trade strategy where it will put greater emphasis on shared values with trading partners and delivering a more transparent process during negotiations.

"New Zealand and Australia are partners which have similar values and similar perspectives and it might be much easier to find common ground with those partners than other partners worldwide," Lange said. "Parliament pushed very strongly for opening negotiations with Australia and New Zealand - perhaps the commission was not really looking to this part of the world for a long time, and now we are on track."

The European delegation's visit comes ahead of the East Asian Summit and APEC meetings, where leaders are expected to try to revive the TPP-11. Lange said he isn't convinced the agreement can go ahead without the US.

Europe is focused on pursuing bilateral agreements with the US blocking any meaningful work at the World Trade Organisation, where Lange said they can establish the frameworks they would like to have in the WTO.

"It is really important to give a signal how good and fair trade agreement could look like in this area," he said. "That might be also reason to act a little bit quicker than usual."

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Stats NZ: Consents For New Homes At All-Time High

A record 41,028 new homes have been consented in the year ended March 2021, Stats NZ said today. The previous record for the annual number of new homes consented was 40,025 in the year ended February 1974. “Within 10 years the number of new homes ... More>>

Stats NZ: Unemployment Declines As Underutilisation Rises

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.7 percent in the March 2021 quarter, continuing to fall from its recent peak of 5.2 percent in the September 2020 quarter but remaining high compared with recent years, Stats NZ said today. ... More>>

ALSO:

Digitl: The Story Behind Vodafone’s FibreX Court Ruling

Vodafone’s FibreX service was in the news this week. What is the story behind the Fair Trading Act court case? More>>

Reserve Bank: Concerned About New Zealand's Rising House Prices

New Zealand house prices have risen significantly in the past 12 months. This has raised concerns at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Putea Matua about the risk this poses to financial stability. Central banks responded swiftly to the global ... More>>

Westpac: Announces Strong Financial Result

Westpac New Zealand (Westpac NZ) [i] says a strong half-year financial result has been driven by better than expected economic conditions. Chief Executive David McLean said while the global COVID-19 pandemic was far from over, the financial effect on ... More>>

MYOB: SME Confidence In Economic Performance Still Cautious

New insights from the annual MYOB Business Monitor have shown the SME sector is still cautious about the potential for further economic recovery, with two-in-five (41%) expecting the New Zealand economy to decline this year. The latest research ... More>>