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Prime Minister Key: regional trade critical to growth

Prime Minister Key: market access, regional trade critical to growth

Wellington, 19 February 2014 - Growing consumer demand in the Asia-Pacific is lifting New Zealand’s export-oriented economy but greater market access and reductions in behind-the-border barriers are needed to fully capitalize on the region’s growth opportunities, according to Prime Minister John Key.

The Prime Minister discussed regional trade and economic cooperation in an interview in Wellington, after the conclusion of a meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council in Auckland whose recommendations included further integration of APEC economies to improve the business environment.

Click here for interview with Prime Minister Key.

Given that New Zealand is a strong advocate of free trade and is in the heart of TPP negotiations, Prime Minister Key noted that the government sees substantial opportunities and internal modelling projects strong economic benefits for both New Zealand and all players.

Though free trade agreements are significant initiatives, Prime Minister Key said that does not mean participating economies will automatically have strong and successful trading relationships.

New Zealand’s economy is expected to grow by around 3.5 percent in 2014, its central bank reports. This is on par with expansion in 2013, based on New Zealand Finance Ministry data up to September which qualifies it as one of the world’s top performing developed economies.

The move towards increased consumption across the Asia-Pacific is driving New Zealand’s pivotal meat and dairy sectors. The latter accounts for about three percent of world production, according to the Prime Minister, 95 percent of which is shipped overseas.

Fourteen APEC member economies are among New Zealand’s top 20 export markets.

Demand is expanding rapidly, driven by markets in Asia whose populations are becoming more affluent and increasing their intake of protein. Prime Minister Key explained that New Zealand is in a good position to fill that market demand.

New Zealand has put great emphasis on the areas that APEC is particularly interested, including market access and selling to core export markets.

The Prime Minister underscored the value of deepened collaboration between APEC economies to improve the ease of doing business in the region by addressing five priority issues. They include starting a business, dealing with permits, getting credit, trading across borders and enforcing contracts.

The Prime Minister recalled a summary of what behind-the-border measures mean in concrete terms that was presented at the last APEC Leaders’ meeting in Bali. This includes the value of reducing some of the costs that the region’s businesses incur, the time needed to establish a business and the degree to which APEC economies recognize each other’s markets and regulations.

The APEC Economic Committee, which is chaired by New Zealand, will be among the technical fora gathered in Ningbo, China this week and next to advance trade and regional economic integration. The path to realizing member economies’ goal of a 25 percent improvement in the ease of doing business in the region by 2015 will be among the priorities.

An APEC Policy Support Unit interim assessment in 2013 found their combined improvement across five priority areas between 2009 and 2012 was 11.5 percent. Input from the business community is helping to spotlight ways to build on this progress.

Prime Minister Key pointed out that one of APEC’s appealing dimensions is that it provides an avenue for the business community, which engages in trade and investment on a daily basis, to become actively involved and help drive the agenda.

Ultimately, the benefits extend beyond corporate ledgers and the trajectory of growth across the region’s economies. The Prime Minister concluded that jobs and high living standards are the net impact of what is achieved at APEC.

ENDS

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