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Groser on a Different Planet

14 OCTOBER 2015

Groser on a Different Planet Claiming TPPA is ‘Good’ for Dairy

New Zealand First says Trade Minister Tim Groser’s claim that the TPPA will eventually be good for dairy is the latest in a string of broken trade promises and misdirection, says New Zealand First.

“Kiwi farmers have heard this ‘in time’ rhetoric ever since New Zealand cut subsidies and tariffs in the mid-1980s,” says New Zealand First Spokesperson on Trade Fletcher Tabuteau.

“What reality has shown us is that if another country wants our goods and services they come and buy them; FTA or not.

“Mr Groser’s claim on TV One’s Q&A programme that ‘even a modest [TPPA] deal produces the biggest bucks for the dairy sector’ is oxymoronic. Let’s be logical and honest, a big deal on dairy would have produced the biggest bucks for New Zealand and the Kiwi dairy industry.

“Remember the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organisation’s infamous Doha trade round? They confirms that comments like this from Mr Groser are 99 per cent hope grounded on 1 per cent reality.

“There’s a feeling of déjà vu and this is what Mr Groser’s predecessor, Paul Swain, told Parliament 14 years ago after the Doha Trade Ministerial: ‘The outcome of this morning's agreement is that all countries have signed up to the elimination of subsidies over time’.

“We were disappointed and saddened to hear Mr Groser tell Q&A: ‘They [USA] chose to play defence and NZ is just too small to stop it’.

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“First, after years of being a world leader in actual free trade, leading by example and advocating the removal of actual tariffs; this has been completely undermined by Mr Groser’s endorsement of trade protectionism by Canada, USA and Japan. And second, Mr Groser went into the talks punching below our weight. That is another indication of what we said all along - he was going to sign anything.

“We also take issue with the benefits claimed. In 2000 and a decade before the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was signed, a former Agriculture Minister John Luxton told Parliament that New Zealand would ‘gain to the tune of $3.4 billion a year’.

“History has proved Mr Luxton right in one regard - total trade has gone up by over $3.5 billion, but sadly $2.8bn of that happens to be imports from ASEAN countries. So it’s a great deal for ASEAN countries and importers, but a less spectacular one for Kiwi exporters,” says Mr Tabuteau.


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