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New Zealand China Council
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July 21, 2022

In response to a public consultation process we recently made a submission to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on New Zealand‘s involvement in the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). Here is the text of our submission.  

Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on New Zealand’s inclusion in discussions on establishing the Indo Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).  This submission has been drafted by the Chair and Executive Director of the Council.  As such it does not represent the views of all individual members.

The Council supports the New Zealand Government’s continuing efforts to champion inclusive international trade and economic cooperation, in our region and globally.  New Zealand’s leadership over many years to co-develop a series of bilateral and regional free trade and economic cooperation agreements, including the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Digital Economic Partnership Agreement (DEPA), have been instrumental in ensuring our region benefits from free and open trade and investment.

Inclusivity has been a core feature of New Zealand’s approach to this regional economic architecture.  The principle that any economy which meets the standards of entry should be entitled to join a multilateral agreement such as the CPTPP, for example, demonstrates our willingness to work with existing and new partners to advance shared goals.  The applications of China, Chinese Taipei and the United Kingdom to join the CPTPP, and New Zealand’s encouragement to the United States to consider joining, demonstrate this open approach in practice.

Regional geopolitical and economic strategic competition is now a fact of our times, but we believe New Zealand can and must still play a valuable role to focus on initiatives which avoid exacerbating this competition.  Any evolution of our region that favours the decoupling and exclusion of particular economies will ultimately be to the detriment of all of us.

We urge the New Zealand Government to work with the United States and other IPEF partners to pursue an open and inclusive approach to the implementation of the proposed economic framework, adhering to our long-held principles.

We are encouraged that the IPEF framework partners “invite participation from additional Indo Pacific partners that share our goals, interests, and ambitions for the region”.  We urge the New Zealand Government to use its status as a framework partner of the IPEF to work with the United States and other partners to continue extending this invitation in an objective and positive way to all regional economies willing to meet the standards that are eventually set; and to develop standards, principles and approaches under the framework which confirm this openness in practice.

It is important that New Zealand responds not only through words but also actions to demonstrate that perceptions the IPEF is designed to contain China are not justified, and that it will play a useful role to advance rather than undermine regional economic integration.  We strongly support the continuation of a ‘China and’ rather than ‘China or’ approach to New Zealand’s future trade expansion and diversification.

Thank you again for the opportunity to make this submission.

John McKinnon, Chair
Alistair Crozier, Executive Director
20 June 2022

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