Environment, ag can both benefit from FTA

2 February 2018
Grower News

However, he added, the public needed to be convinced of that. 

The CPTTP is the re-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership after the USA withdrew, and is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Negotiations have concluded between the countries but it is yet to be ratified by New Zealand. The TTP had met some public and political opposition.

The CPTTP could change the sector from relying on low cost commodities to a focus on high value exports intimately connected to a pristine environment, Dr Lees says. “Where New Zealand producers are exporting high value branded products we see an associated increase in concern for the environment. These producers know that they need to meet consumers demand for products to be produced ethically and sustainably.”

Tariffs on kiwifruit exports to Japan, the largest importer of New Zealand kiwifruit, will be eliminated. Tariffs on wine exports to New Zealand’s fourth largest market Canada will also be removed. 

Overall the CPTPP could provide approximately $222m of tariff savings each year.

He suggests, however, the public stills need to be convinced of these benefits. “There is suspicion that benefits of the agreement will not be shared equally across the economy and many will see it as only benefitting already wealthy farmers who are damaging the environment.

“For the public to get behind such a deal New Zealand agriculture needs to demonstrate that increased agricultural production won’t have further impacts on the environment and will have benefits to all New Zealanders. In fact, the greatest benefit will be to the regions and to agricultural industries that are already addressing their environmental footprint.” 

He cites the example of the wine and kiwifruit industries. “They are committed to minimising their environmental impact not because of regulations, but because they market high value branded products and their customers demand that these products are produced sustainably. 

He says the answer to ensuring that improvement in market access for the country’s agricultural products truly benefits all New Zealanders is for the agricultural sector to move away from commodities to producing high value branded exports. “This will provide incentives for farmers to meet higher environmental standards not reluctantly as a result of public pressure and regulations but because it gives them a market advantage. 

“If the public can be convinced that the benefits to the agricultural sector can contribute to improving the current environmental challenges as well as regional economic growth then the CPTPP can be seen not only as a win for global collaboration but a win for all New Zealanders.”

Source: Lincoln University