Trade expert Stephen Jacobi says he thinks New Zealand cheesemakers are rightly concerned about a European Union plan to protect the names of common cheeses.
This will be particularly in beef, but also in a wide range of primary products, he says.
“The Europeans and the Australians now have free trade agreements and the Australians already have a very strong advantage over us in beef and the Europeans will have that too once their agreement is ratified,” Jacobi, the executive director of the NZ International Business Forum, told Rural News.
“The Japanese have just put a safeguard on beef exports of 50% so that will damage our trade even further. You are talking about over $70 million of business, so it is quite a lot.”
Over time Australia and the European Union will “steal a march on us,” he warns.
This is not only in beef; the dairy, horticulture, wine and wood sectors will also be exposed.
“The real gains in TPP for us came from Japan in the end and not from the United States, and it’s Japan we don’t have an FTA with -- the only country in Asia we don’t have one with now,” he says.
Jacobi says the National and the Labour Parties should reach a bipartisan consensus on how to roll out the current TPP process. Negotiations are at a “delicate” stage.
“This is too serious for NZ to just leave to domestic politics in my view. That’s why we like bipartisanship,” said Jacobi, “We have an opportunity potentially to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership before the end of the year among the 11 remaining parties, excluding the United State which has pulled out.
“It would be a lot easier to conclude that agreement if it wasn’t open to renegotiation.”
Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson has said NZ should hold out for a better Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that includes blocking offshore buyers from buying existing residential homes.
Jacobi says if we reopen negotiations, other countries will come up with different issues and “we will see a repeat of the eight years negotiation we just spent trying to get TPP right”.
“That’s the risk. Of course at this stage it is hard to say whether others will want to reopen negotiation. It is conceivable they might. It would be particularly damaging if the market aspects got reopened because that was a very delicately balanced exercise.
“For those reasons we would rather stay with TPP as it is at the moment. As you know, the risk for us is that if we don’t get TPP through we will be seriously squeezed in the Japanese market.”
“Calling for renegotiation is not a straightforward exercise and I don’t know that NZers would be very well served to be the ones calling for it.”
TPP has got to this stage against the odds, he says.
“Everyone assumed once the United States pulled out the others would dissipate and all credit to the Government and negotiators for keeping up this work.
“But the Japanese are key in this: they have put a lot of emphasis on this agreement for their own domestic restructuring so they clearly are not wanting to waste all that effort and that of course encourages other people to stay on board.”