The golden era of trade over and NZ must diversify partners – deputy Secretary of Trade

The golden era of trade is over and New Zealand needs to push hard to diversify its trading partners, the deputy secretary of trade says.

Vangelis Vitalis made the comments at the Primary Industries Conference in Wellington on Wednesday morning.

Vitalis said primary industry exports went through a boom between 1995 and 2017 but since then, things had become much harder.

Countries were more protective of their own industries, and superpowers like the US and China were stepping outside of regular trading relationships, he said.

“Ask any Australian be they a wine exporter, barley exporter, coal exporter how challenging the geo-politics is, because China closed them down.

“The geo-politics is getting harder and more difficult. The big powers are now stepping outside the rules-based trading system. And we, the smaller and medium states, are increasingly the collateral damage to that. We need to find ways to mitigate that risk.”

Vitalis said Aotearoa could not afford to rest on its laurels especially if it want to reached the goal of doubling the value of exports in the next decade.

“It is very important to remember, as the prime minister said, that the policy is ‘China and..’.”

China took 23 percent of New Zealand’s exports and was “critically important”, he said.

“But while we have a trade agreement with China and Hong Kong, we also have an agreement with CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) partners. And that group of partners is 27 percent of our trade.”

He said New Zealand was trying to “hedge” against risks.

“Then you add ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The big story there is the growing market of Indonesia, and the growth of Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia.”

New Zealand was trying to grow its trade network through its agreements.

Vitalis said as well as opening new markets, we needed to make the most of deals we already had in place.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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