24 Jan 2017

Collapse of TPP would hurt NZ - trade expert

12:15 pm on 24 January 2017

US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) will hurt New Zealand's interests, says an international trade policy expert.

Protesters march down Queen Street

Hundreds of New Zealanders protested against the TPP last year, and the deal could be dead in the water after President Trump's rejection of it. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Mr Trump signed an executive order today withdrawing from the trade pact - which was signed by 12 nations, including New Zealand, and covered 40 percent of the world's economy.

Mr Trump later said he would seek one-on-one trade deals with countries that would allow the United States to quickly terminate them in 30 days "if somebody misbehaves."

"We're going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country," he told a meeting of union leaders.

Trade policy expert Charles Finny told Morning Report today that New Zealand would have benefited from the agreement, which also included Canada, Mexico, Japan and Peru, where New Zealand has no other free-trade agreements.

Mr Finny said it was unlikely the remaining countries will stick to the current deal.

"A lot of the content of the agreement which was now been signed was actually put there to serve US interests. So there is quite a lot of thinking to be done about whether you would want to keep the thing intact exactly as negotiated, or else take out those bits that are potentially negative for us."

Prime Minister Bill English has said he thought the TPP might still be worth fighting for.

However, long-time critic of the TPP Jane Kelsey said it was a crazy idea to pursue a deal pushed by the US, when the US had pulled out of it.

Ms Kelsey told Morning Report the TPP had not fallen over because the US was not in it, it had fallen over because the model was no longer seen as one that serves the interests of people.

She said pushing ahead without America was pointless.

"TPP without the US can't go ahead, unless you have ratification from Japan, from Canada, from Australia, and from Mexico, and two of those are currently still stuck."

Labour leader Andrew Little said it was foreseeable some months ago that the TPP deal would not proceed.

He told Morning Report today that New Zealand should now be focused on removing trade barriers with other countries.

"The TPP had some major flaws in it, it undermined New Zealand sovereignty, and indeed the sovereignty of the 11 other nation-states that were part of it. There were real problems with it, as a trade deal, it didn't just deal with trade, it dealt with a whole bunch of other things that were not necessary for the advancement of trading nations."

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