The Prime Minister needs to join Australia and others and immediately take a stand alongside the UK in the wake of the military-grade nerve agent attack on UK soil, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Following the use of a Russian produced nerve agent in an attempted execution of a British citizen the UK is calling on its friends and allies to join it in taking action against Russia.
“The attack has left a former Russian spy and his daughter in a critical condition and others hospitalised.
“This is an appalling, violent breach of the sovereignty of one of New Zealand’s closest friends. The evidence points to Russian responsibility and the Ardern-Peters Government must join the likes of the European Union, the US and Australia in expressing its support of the UK in the strongest possible terms.
“Foreign Minister Winston Peters is fast earning himself an international reputation as an apologist for Russia and his inexplicable push for a free trade agreement is raising questions and concerns among our closest partners – and threatening our own trade agenda.
“The Prime Minister needs to shut him down and start showing some leadership to our friends and allies.
“This Ardern-Peters Government is continuing to put its personal biases ahead of the national interest and that must stop.”
National’s Trade spokesperson Todd McClay has welcomed confirmation that the significant gains won for New Zealand during the past decade of TPP negotiations have been protected, with the release of the finalised agreement today.
“Signing the TPP will have huge benefits for New Zealand exporters and that’s why we worked so hard for so many years to get the agreement over the line – in spite of fierce opposition from Labour and NZ First,” Mr McClay says.
“It will mean significantly improved access for our exporters to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world and will put our businesses in an even better position to succeed on the international stage.
“What the release of the text has also shown is that the Labour Party’s flimsy justification for leading protests against the deal only to completely flip its position and sign it while in Government were complete spin.
“As the text has shown there are few differences between the original TPP and the CPTPP.
“For example the market access provisions remain the same – in spite of Labour previously claiming they weren’t good enough, the Government can still be sued by foreign corporations, the side letter we signed with Australia restricting that ability remains and the Treaty of Waitangi protections the National Party negotiated remain in place.
“So as we can see the TPP was a good deal when the National Government negotiated and signed it and it’s still a good deal now.
“Labour and NZ First might have changed the name, but it’s still the same deal.”
National’s Trade spokesperson Todd McClay has today written to Trade Minister David Parker requesting a full briefing on changes to the TPP agreement and an assurance that the full text and National Interest Analysis will be released in sufficient time for New Zealanders to assess the agreement prior to its signature.
“The Green Party has confirmed it will not support the amended agreement, meaning the Government does not have the votes necessary to progress the deal without National’s support,” Mr McClay says.
“Many of the Government’s claims over changes to the TPP seem exaggerated. For instance, the Pharmac model has always been protected, an identical Treaty of Waitangi clause is in the original TPP, the Government always had the right to regulate, and tariff reductions remain as National negotiated them.
“The revised TPP still contains an Investor State Dispute Settlement clause and, as previously negotiated by National in the original TPP, all Australian investments remain exempt from dispute settlement.
“Even with New Zealand First’s huge ISDS flip-flop, Mr Parker and his Government doesn’t have the votes to pass TPP without National so I expect him to show the same bipartisanship on trade that was developed over the last two years.
“For a new minister who doesn’t have a government majority on trade he’s not off to a very good start.”
National Party Trade spokesperson Todd McClay has welcomed news that an agreement on the TPP has been reached – and called on the Coalition Government to release the details of the agreement to the public as soon as possible.
“Signing the TPP will have huge benefits for New Zealand exporters and it’s great to see reports that an agreement has been reached and a deal will be signed on 8 March.
“The agreement was a huge focus for the previous government because it will open up improved access to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.
“It will mean more opportunities for our exporters through significantly improved access to markets including Japan, Vietnam, Mexico and Peru. It puts our exporters on a more level playing field and we know that when given those opportunities, they will succeed.
“It will also bring the Asia-Pacific region closer together and show that free trade is still possible, and important, in a time of increasing protectionism around the world.
“That’s why it was such a focus of the previous government, despite opposition from all three governing parties.
“New Zealanders should be proud of the role we have played in getting this agreement over the line.
“The National Party has previously pledged its parliamentary support to help get the agreement over the line. We know this is important because Labour’s governing partner, the Greens are opposed to the deal.
“New Zealand First, which has long been a vocal opponent of free trade deals, is yet to state whether or not it will vote for the agreement and has previously voted against TPP legislation.
“While the revised agreement is yet to be seen and the devil will be in the detail, today’s news is a positive step. I call on the Government to release the text and the newly agreed details as soon as possible to allow the Parliament and the public to consider it properly,” Mr McClay says.
The Government should extend the deadline for submissions on their Bill to ban foreign buyers to avoid having to go back and fix it later, National’s Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Submissions on the proposal to ban foreign buyers are scheduled to close today as the Government was desperate to ram the Bill through ahead of the signing of the TPP. But with the TPP now being delayed, there’s no need for such urgency.
“The Bill as it stands is just bad law and if they do pass it like this, they’re simply going to have to come back and clean up the mess later.
“It is clear the Government doesn’t understand the complexities of the supposed ban – we know that because it’s already unravelling before it’s even gotten off the ground.
“The Government is already being forced to work on an exemption for Singaporeans because it’s discovered a ban would breach our FTA, and Australians have also been carved out for the same reason.
“This is despite the Government’s earlier claims that foreign buyers of New Zealand houses could be banned without breaching any of our international agreements.
“Which country will need to be exempt next? And what will happen to our important international relationships if we refuse an exemption? What is the Government prepared to give away if it doesn’t budge? Will this prevent it getting better access to China for our dairy producers, for example?
“These are just some of the questions that the Government needs to answer. It would be wise to take to a step back to get this Bill right before it does real damage.”
The Coalition Government should haul new Health Minister David Clark into line and stop him demanding resignation letters from all the District Health Board Chairs around the country, National Party Spokesperson for State Services Todd McClay says.
“This sets an extremely dangerous precedent across the public services. These people are working hard to lead large and complex organisations on behalf of the public,” Mr McClay says. “It’s demeaning and insulting to require them to sign resignation letters without cause because the new Health Minister wants to show them who’s boss.”
“This is a very bad way to start working with Crown entities and companies,” Mr McClay says. “It’s a highly political approach which I had hoped this Labour government would not follow.
“There are a whole lot of people in those government agencies who are focused not on politics but on getting the job done. The new government would serve New Zealand’s best interests by letting them get on and do the job.
“Health Board Chairs concerned by David Clark’s ham-fisted move could well seek legal advice on the implications this has on good employment practice.
“Labour won’t get experienced people to serve on the Boards of Crown organisations if they are going to hire and fire them on a whim.
“Kiwis would be right to feel concerned by Clark’s drive to stifle hard working public servants. Perhaps Jacinda Ardern should demand her new health Minister signs his own letter just in case.”
Trade Minister Todd McClay says a trade agreement with Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru could be worth 10,000 jobs to provincial New Zealand and will give Kiwis unprecedented access to fast-growing Latin American markets.
This comes as Mr McClay calls for public submissions on FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance countries.
“Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru combined have 221 million consumers and a GDP of US$3.85 trillion, which is equivalent to the world’s sixth largest economy,” Mr McClay says.
“This is an important market for us now, and we want the public and the business community to consider how they might take advantage of the increased opportunities for both trade and investment that will result from an FTA.”
Mr McClay says increasing trade and business links with the Pacific Alliance will also advance the prospect of New Zealand serving as a trading bridge between South America and Southeast Asia.
“The Government will be pushing hard for a high-quality agreement. It’s important we hear from New Zealanders about what they would like to see prioritised and progressed during negotiations, Mr McClay says”
Mr McClay says negotiations with the Pacific Alliance will begin in the coming months and are expected to progress swiftly. Public submissions are due by October 16.
For more information on how to make a submission, visit: https://mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/agreements-under-negotiation/pacificalliance
Trade Minister Todd McClay says he expects the NZ-European Union Free Trade Agreement to be formally launched later this year after the European Commission and New Zealand both finalised their respective negotiating mandates.
“It’s extremely important the European Commission and New Zealand have completed this next step,” Mr McClay says.
“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also announced tonight in his ‘State of the Union’ address that he is seeking approval to launch negotiations and aims to conclude the NZ-EU FTA by late 2019.”
“An FTA will give New Zealand companies an opportunity to significantly increase trade with the EU.”
“Two-way trade with the EU is worth more than $20 billion a year and creates thousands of jobs and opportunities for every region and city of New Zealand.”
Mr McClay says the Bill English-led Government will be pushing for a high-quality, comprehensive FTA.
“More than 8500 jobs are created in New Zealand by every billion dollars of exports,” Mr McClay says.
“That means a deal with the EU that increases trade has the potential to create thousands more jobs for Kiwis.”
The European Commission will now send its negotiating mandate to the European Council. Approval is expected later this year.
National’s Trade Spokesperson Todd McClay says Labour needs to be clear how many trade deals it would be prepared to renegotiate in pursuit of its political point to ban foreign house buyers, following revelations yesterday it would renegotiate the Korean FTA.
“There are identical issues around Labour’s policy with our trade deal with Taiwan as there is with the Korean FTA,” Mr McClay says.
“Labour would need to renegotiate the lucrative Taiwan trade deal to implement their rushed housing ban, along with the Korean FTA.
"The Taiwan deal is worth more than $1.2 billion to our economy each year. Exports to Taiwan have increased by around 25 per cent since 2013 when the deal entered into force. This growth has created thousands of jobs for Kiwis.
“Yesterday it was Korea, today it would be Taiwan - that's two important trade deals Labour would have to renegotiate to make their political point – that is simply naive.
"Labour is being reckless with trade and jobs. Their risky announcement will concern businesses who rely on the certainty and opportunity these trade deals provide. It will concern New Zealanders whose jobs rely on the trade access we've successfully negotiated with countries like Taiwan and Korea.
“Labour already wants to tax New Zealanders out of business. Now it wants to renegotiate them out of business too.
"New Zealanders deserve answers before they cast their vote. Labour needs to explain why we need all these big changes in economic policy when even they agree the New Zealand economy is performing well."
Labour must come clean about its plans to renegotiate the Korean free trade agreement which is worth billions to New Zealand’s economy and supports thousands of jobs.
Jacinda Ardern has said this morning she wants to renegotiate New Zealand’s trade agreement with South Korea – a trading relationship which is already worth more than $4 billion a year,” National’s Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“This is another example of ill-thought out and vague Labour policy made up on the hoof. It’s simply not good enough for Jacinda Ardern to put the economic fortunes of New Zealand at risk along with thousands of jobs and businesses.
“Labour even seems to think it could renegotiate this deal by Christmas when it took five years to negotiate in the first place.
“That’s just not credible. Where is the detail on how they would do it? And what concessions would they be prepared to give away in return?
“New Zealand is a small country dependent on trade with exports supporting 620,000 jobs and contributing more than $70 billion to our economy every year.
“Labour already wants to tax New Zealanders out of business. Now they want to renegotiate them out of business too.
“The Korean FTA provides greater access for New Zealand forestry, dairy, beef, lamb and kiwifruit, along with opportunities for education, science and technology – it’s our sixth-largest export destination.
“How can our exporters plan to grow or invest or hire more staff when there is no certainty?
“Voters have a right to know what they are voting for. Labour must front up with the detail,” Mr McClay says.