Oct 29, 2008

Major Change Ahead For MFAT And NZTE

National's foreign affairs and trade policy has just been released

Enhancing ties and promoting free-trade agreements with Pacific and Asian nations are features of National's Foreign Affairs and Trade policies announced today.

To view National's Trade policy go to: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/trade_policy.pdf

Foreign Affairs spokesman Murray McCully says New Zealand should chart its own course in international affairs and that National will continue to move to embrace bipartisanship in foreign policy.

"The Foreign Affairs and Trade policies strongly reflect the content of the discussion documents released last year, which received widespread support.

"A country of our size can't operate with different agencies in their own silos around the world, and that's why National will require agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, NZ Trade & Enterprise, and Tourism NZ to co-operate to adopt a 'NZ Inc' approach in international markets.

"While also building on key bilateral relationships, such as those with Australia, we also need to further strengthen our relationship with the US, increase the level of discussions with our neighbours in the South Pacific, and build on relationships with Asian countries.

"This policy commits National to increasing the focus of our growing aid budget on the Pacific, where New Zealand has its greatest responsibilities and can make the greatest difference."

Mr McCully says there needs to be a strengthening of the oversight of terrorist groups and their money-laundering activities, which Labour has ignored. National will also: • Ensure that the nuclear-free legislation remains in place. • Put a high priority on liberalising trade with the US through the P4. • Review NZ's network of overseas posts to ensure there is a focus on key countries and key markets. • Maintain current and future aid spending levels laid out in Budget 2008. • Ensure that terrorist groups and their financing operations are properly identified and designated.

Boosting New Zealand's export performance lies at the heart of National's trade policy, says Trade spokesman Tim Groser.

"There is unmistakable evidence, country by country and company by company, that higher rates of productivity are associated with higher rates of exports, and that's what New Zealand needs right now.

"The next National Government will set aspirational goals.

"We will look to increase the ratio of exports to GDP from 30% - one of the lowest in the OECD – to 40%.

"We will do this by making the progression of multilateral negotiations through the World Trade Organisation our top trade priority, ensuring that we are actively involved in bilaterial and regional free-trade negotiations, and that government agencies work overseas hand-in-glove on putting support of exporters first.

"National also recognises that the really big drivers of our export performance are domestic policy instruments, and that if we have inadequate infrastructure, a shortage of skills, and rising compliance costs then we will not be able to lift our export game."

National will also: • Require NZTE to adopt far less bureaucratic procedures to grant-making, and put more emphasis on 'offshore' activities and less on 'onshore' activities. • Contract out more of the grant-making to local business associations/agencies. • Focus on exporter education programmes.

To view National's Foreign Affairs policy go to: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/foreign_affairs_policy.pdf To view National's Trade policy go to: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/trade_policy.pdf