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  • 15 Jul 2015 10:28 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Trade Minister Tim Groser today announced that New Zealand has finalised its accession to the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), and it will come into effect next month.

    New Zealand businesses will have guaranteed access to bid for an estimated US$1.7 trillion in annual overseas government contracts through joining the GPA, which creates new opportunities for Kiwi businesses to export more products and services to more destinations, Mr Joyce says.

    “Formal procedures in Geneva have now been completed which means that from mid-August, New Zealand companies will be able to do business freely across 43 WTO member countries, including the US, Canada, Japan and 28 countries of the EU.”

    The GPA covers the purchase of a broad range of goods and services that government agencies buy from the private sector, including construction, and will help achieve the Business Growth Agenda goal of increasing exports to 40% of GDP by 2025, Mr Joyce says.

    “Selling to international governments without having to set up offshore branches or other ‘work arounds’ is a key area of opportunity for New Zealand exporters. Governments worldwide are looking for the types of products and services that New Zealand offers.”

    New Zealand’s accession follows two years of negotiations. From next month, New Zealand exporters seeking to access the government procurement markets of the other GPA member countries will be able to compete on equal terms with their international counterparts, Mr Groser says.

    Member countries are not allowed to discriminate against businesses from another GPA member country in respect of government procurement opportunities covered by the agreement. They must also follow rules relating to competition and openness.

    “Joining will not have a big impact on New Zealand government agencies because they already conduct their procurement in line with the agreement’s fundamental principles.

    “We already follow the rules, but until now have not had the same opportunity for our New Zealand exporters. Joining up to the GPA will improve all access and reduce costs for exporters.

    “This is a significant step in opening up large overseas markets to our Kiwi suppliers.”

  • 02 Jul 2015 3:36 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    I would like to thank our two co-chairs, the Hon Simon Power, Chair of the NZ-US Council and Stu Van Soyoc, President of the US-based counterpart organisation for assuming joint responsibility for the Partnership Forum. I think it is a great idea for us to get together once a year with Government, media, business and other stakeholders to take a helicopter view of the relationship.

    The United States is still the indispensable global power – indeed, the United States defines the essence of hard power. And from our side of the Partnership, I think it is fair to say that from time to time New Zealand has also shown in international social, political and economic affairs, a capacity to be an ideas factory. Taken too far, as it regrettably sometimes is, this claim becomes gross self-deception. It appears this has been a problem for some time. One hundred years ago, a French political commentator, Andre Siegfried, wrote –

    “Many New Zealanders are honestly convinced that the attention of the whole world is concentrated upon them, waiting with curiosity and even with anxiety to see what they will say and do next.”

    But when the ideas are professionally, rather than breathlessly, articulated and have a wider currency than just ‘made-to-measure’ for New Zealand interests or views, yes, we have been able to marshal soft power effectively. And if ever there were a project in the economic sphere that exemplifies an effective partnership between US hard power and NZ soft power it is TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is not by chance that New Zealand is the official Repository, or Administrator, of TPP.

    The first block was laid down by New Zealand proposing in 1998 to Singapore an FTA as a possible bridge to what we called P5, or Pacific Five. However, the central idea was not to create a bilateral deal just between two small and already open economies, but as a first step towards a wider, regional FTA that we called P5, or Pacific Five. Crucially, we identified the United States as its engine room representing North America with the other Members being from the Pacific, Asia and Latin America – in other words, the four geographical corners of the APEC footprint. If we could pull that off, we figured at the time, we would simply see where it went from there in the wider APEC context.

    There was no timetable or ‘road-map’ of the type beloved by generations of Geneva negotiators who invest such unwarranted faith in the false precision of such procedural devices. As the great 19th Century Prussian General Von Moltke famously said – ‘no battle plan survives the first encounter with the enemy’. A more effective strategy, I think, is to maintain a core idea and then improvise around it as the political facts on the ground, and therefore opportunities, change. Frankly, I don’t know any other way to negotiate in the real world.

    Like so many strategic trade initiatives, we had a few false starts and twists and turns – but the original strategic vision always remained intact. As always, this had to be sustained through shifts in the electoral cycle. Over the years in New Zealand, three Prime Ministers, several Ministers from different sides of the political fence and many NZ officials have contributed to this project and I do want to acknowledge the huge collective contribution of them all. Countries whose major political parties are incapable of forging a core shared idea on certain issues in Foreign Policy theatres like this are condemned to be marginalised.

    The project became supercharged only when President Obama decided in 2010 on his way to the APEC Leaders Meeting in Singapore to use P4, or Pacific Four, as the base of his and his then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ‘Pivot to Asia’. P4 became P7 – Australia and others immediately wanted a seat around the table when the US sat down and put some chips on the table for the first time. It then became P9, got renamed TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, and at Los Cabos in Mexico at the G20 Summit became a 12 country negotiation when Canada, Mexico and Japan entered TPP. We are now ready, ladies and gentlemen, to complete it.

    The US Cavalry Arrives

    But to complete TPP, we first had to wait, continuing briefly with 19th Century military metaphors, for the US cavalry to arrive in the form of TPA – or Trade Promotions Authority. And what a tense few weeks it has been, as we watched the most important of all Parliaments – the US Congress – do its business.

    I know it is an old US political joke, but as I watched the extraordinary ebb and flow of the process both in the Senate and the House I could not help but recall the saying that

    Making laws and making sausages are very similar. The public will generally consume the final result, but you wouldn’t want them to watch exactly how they are made’.

    Alternatively stated, democracy is a very messy process.

    I know many US political leaders, including leading Republican Congressional leaders, played a vital and extremely responsible role in getting this through. But I do want to put on the record our thanks to the indefatigable efforts of US Trade Representative Mike Froman, and the team he leads.

    We were never going to start the endgame of the TPP Negotiation without the US Congress providing the requisite authority to the Administration in the form of Trade Promotions Authority. The stakes of a successful outcome were high, not just for those of us who know that a liberal, well regulated trade and investment regime serves the interests of small countries like ours. The strategic stakes were also very high for the United States.

    I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that if the representatives of the United States people, namely, the Members of the 114th US Congress, had not backed the President’s Trade Strategy, not only would the US ‘pivot to Asia’ have been effectively shelved at least in the economic area for some years to come, but it would have meant the near certain failure of the other arm of US strategic trade policy across the Atlantic – TTIP, or the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and Europe. Further, with the WTO teetering towards the WTO Ministerial Meeting in a few months’ time either with a very small result after thirteen years of negotiations or literally nothing to show for the effort, I am not sure what options the United States would have had to advance its agenda.

    Under that scenario, New Zealand, Australia and other close friends and collaborators of the United States would not have sat on their hands watching what was then going to happen inside the Beltway. No, we have had only too recent an illustration of what would have happened in the field of international development finance to know that would never have happened.

    Without going into the political entrails of the extraordinary developments around the Chinese led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB, we would have gone ahead with our trade and investment agendas without the participation of the United States, at least for some years. Clearly, that would not have been our wish, but that is exactly what has happened in the case of the AIIB and it would have happened here. We have our own interests to protect and enhance and we take the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be.

    US and China Economic Leadership – Some Reflections on Trade and Climate Change

    It is perhaps appropriate to state our position on the very sensitive matter of US and Chinese leadership in the early 21st Century in international economic matters because it has become part of the TPP debate, including in China and the United States.

    First of all, and specifically with respect to TPP, we reject completely the proposition that TPP is some type of ‘China containment’ strategy. At least one Australian Trade Minister and I have said in public, neither Australia nor New Zealand would be part of TPP if it became a ‘China containment’ strategy. For years our model has been open regionalism.

    Indeed, we absolutely do not exclude the longer-term possibility of China becoming party to TPP in some later iteration of TPP or some later evolution of TPP into something we cannot quite envisage today. I have had many discussions of an informal nature with senior Chinese officials on TPP that lead me to the conclusion that while this is not a current possibility, it cannot be excluded.

    Further, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and others are also involved in another mega-regional Trade Negotiation called RCEP, or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. This is a negotiation involving 16 countries that currently includes China and not the United States. I leave for an RCEP Trade Ministers’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur in a couple of weeks’ time. It is not as mature as TPP but is making some progress.

    Finally, we see all these efforts as ever-increasing and broadly consistent concentric rings of trade and investment integration that point towards the ultimate vision that all APEC economies and their Leaders have accepted – an APEC-wide FTA. Whether we will ever quite get there or when, I have no idea. But this is the strategic vision unifying these various negotiations and bilateral FTAs of the type that all TPP partners have with non-TPP economies.

    I will not comment on broader political, military or strategic matters involving Beijing and Washington because it is not my responsibility to do so. But sticking within the theme of US-China leadership in the international economic arena, there is a very interesting counterpoint model in the field of Climate Change.

    First, while I have no time today to elaborate on this, members of this Forum would, I am sure, be interested to know that the partnership New Zealand has with the United States is at least as close on climate change as it has been on trade for decades. The NZ proposal on one of the most sensitive issues in the negotiations - the legal form of the proposed new Comprehensive Climate Change Agreement - is clearly the most realistic solution available for the United States, given certain political realities US negotiators have to take into account This has been acknowledged in so many words by my colleague, Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change. I should add quickly that it is also clearly consistent with Chinese political interests and I have had excellent discussions with Chinese Ministers and officials on exactly this point.

    But my reason for mentioning climate change is a broader political point and it is about US-China leadership on international economic issues. It is, in my view, very difficult to over-estimate the strategic significance of the bilateral US/China Agreement on Climate Change, announced jointly in Beijing last November by President Obama and President Xi.

    This will help enormously in a diplomatic and negotiating sense towards getting an international consensus – to put it bluntly, China is now politically invested in the success of Paris. It obviously also matters enormously in a material sense. After all, the United States and China are together responsible for more than one third of global emissions.

    In the ongoing debate over 21st Century global governance, where multilateralism seems so difficult to advance without the United States any longer playing the role of a single hegemonic power as it did so effectively after World War II, we have looked to forums such as the G7 for more collective political leadership. Then there was briefly the G8, which fell apart after the annexation of Crimea and consequential and ongoing repercussions in the Eastern Ukraine. For about a decade, we have looked to the G20 to provide leadership, since clearly the day has long since passed when developed countries alone can point the way forward. The essential problem is that the habits of shared responsibility for ‘the system’ are not ingrained.

    These groupings all no doubt have their place and will of course evolve, but for those of us outside the central corridors of power, we need operationally effective results, not just communiques, to point the way forward for the broader international community. And we see that in climate change, this is the world of the G2 – convergence on crucial matters between Washington and Beijing. We welcome it and in the early 21st Century I would say we need more of it.

    Before I conclude with some reflections on how we are going to close the deal on TPP, I want to go back to fundamentals: the case for open economic markets.

    The Benefits of Trade and Investment Integration

    At one level, I consider it is disturbing that the case even needs re-stating. But clearly it does. Consider the sound and fury surrounding TPP in various countries as carefully stage-managed leaks of supposed current TPP texts take place. Consider the torturous process of getting Trade Promotions Authority (TPA) and the difficulties the President had marshalling sufficient support within the US Democratic Party – not a new problem of course, as those of us who remember what happened to Fast Track Authority in the House of Representatives during the first term of President Clinton’s Presidency.

    First, the case for open trade policies starts with economic theory. Please don’t switch off – I do recall Keynes’ famous observation that:

    “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

    To avoid unnecessary speculation, and since I am catching a plane this afternoon to go to Peru for the Pacific Alliance Summit, let me assure you that I cannot off-hand think of any ‘madmen in authority’, let alone ‘academic scribblers’ in either of our two countries working on the politics of trade. Thank heavens.

    The core intellectual idea underpinning trade liberalisation is the theory of comparative advantage, formulated almost 200 years ago. There have always been outlier economists who question it, or posit special conditions, under which it might not work; there always will be a few sceptics, as in any field or academic discipline. Similarly, one recent survey in the United States estimated that there are about 3% of highly trained and reputable climate change scientists who do not believe anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a leading cause of climate change, compared with 97% of climate change scientists who do.

    Back in the world of economics, certain sceptics of trade liberalisation, like the Cambridge University mid-20th Century Marxist economist, Joan Robinson, are formidable minds, not ‘academic scribblers’. But such thinkers are marginalised.

    All in all, the underlying theory of comparative advantage is generally considered the most widely shared foundation theory in economics. In one recent survey I read, it was described as “an unassailable intellectual cornerstone”. For those like me who were educated in economics in the 1960s and 1970s, the man who wrote the basic undergraduate text we all started with right around the world, Paul Samuelson, called the theory underlying liberal international trade -  “the only proposition in social science that is both true and non-trivial”.

    OK – you don’t like, or choose to reference, economic theory? You feel it would embarrass you in the pub to acknowledge any interest in theory? You would not pass the Tui Ad test? You are one of Keynes’ practical men or women? Have I got an empirical study for you!

    Well, actually I have a compilation of over 150 empirical studies analysed by experts from the OECD, WTO, UNCTAD, the World Bank and the ILO – in fact 10 international organisation in total produced the most comprehensive and collaborative study of the empirical evidence that I am aware of - and I have been following this issue for 40 years. It was published in 2012 and called - Policy Priorities for International Trade and Jobs’. Here are the key findings.

    ·         First, consider the evidence for developed countries. Of the 14 main OECD multi-country econometric studies undertaken since 2000, all 14 have concluded that trade plays an independent and positive role in raising incomes.

    ·         Second, the evidence for developing countries leads to exactly the same conclusion. Case studies reviewing the experience of the 12 most rapidly growing emerging economies over the past 60 years concluded that harnessing the power of the global economy was a central feature common to all and that there was what they called ‘overwhelming’ evidence that trade played an essential role in raising incomes. Sorry guys, the North Koreans got it wrong. The South Koreans got it right.

    The final concluding comment of these international experts is dripping with irony. Normally, international officials don’t do irony; it takes extreme frustration to drive experts to use ironic humour. Listen to their words:

    “Despite all the debate about whether openness [on trade] contributes to growth, if the issue were truly one warranting nothing but agnosticism, we should expect at least some of the estimates to be negative…The uniformly positive estimates suggest that the relevant terms of the debate by now should be about the size of the positive influence of openness on growth….rather than about whether increased levels of trade relative to GDP have a positive effect on productivity and growth”.

    I can of course understand vested interests who oppose trade agreements. If, say, your family owns an inefficient sugar processing plant in the wrong part of the United States and which survives only because of sugar subsidies and high protection, I get it. What you need is a long time to adjust to competition, sweetened by a good dose of adjustment assistance. You may even surprise yourself by what you can do to improve your competitive position over a long period of time – I could take you to dozens of examples in this country of industries and companies which vigorously contest our first liberalisation moves in the1980s, staring with the NZ wined industry which used to be deeply protectionist and for understandable reasons. But I am zeroing-in here on the anti-trade, anti-globalisation ideologues who are present around the globe. Even in Germany, a post-war bastion of the open trading system, they have become quite recently a growing element of the political debate on trade. This will complicate the TTIP negotiation.

    Here in New Zealand we have anti-trade activists who are relentlessly consistent: they have never supported a single Trade Agreement and they never will. They are politically irrelevant to my political party. However, they get an enormous amount of airplay and are not politically irrelevant to other important elements in our democracy. For reasons I explained earlier, I believe broad bipartisan support for open trade strategies is vital to avoid your country being marginalised.

    There is no point in asking them to explain how on earth New Zealand could have survived, let alone prospered, without CER, without the Uruguay Round, the China FTA, the network of FTAs that New Zealand has with ASEAN countries – they opposed even the Singapore/NZ FTA, the first building block of the DNA of TPP. To paraphrase a well-known quote of our Prime Minister, are we meant to earn our living just be selling to ourselves?

    There is no point in asking them to explain this, because this is not an evidence-based fight. This is about ideology and the role of markets. On a purely personal note, and going back to my political past in the late 1960s and on which I will not elaborate, I understand exactly how and why these people think like this. I recall wistfully an old political doctrinal statement ‘The final battle will be between the socialists and the ex-socialists’.

    If it were just these anti-trade activists, they could be safely ignored by everyone. But their modus operandi is to give currency to concerns about policies that middle New Zealand, which is anything but ideological, cares about – and then to exaggerate those concerns out of the park.

    Happily, those concerns of middle New Zealand are widely shared starting with me, my colleagues in Cabinet and Caucus and the Kiwi voters who elected us. And as I survey the likely landing zone for these issues, I am extremely confident that our negotiators, who are world class, have done an excellent job. We shall be able to defend our position.

    So, to put it bluntly, we are not going to sign up to poorly constructed ISDS provisions that ‘transfer control of the country’s sovereignty’ to foreign corporations. We are not going to sign up to agreements that undermine a central pillar of our Public Health system – the pharmaceutical purchasing agency called Pharmac, which is used to keep the cost of medicines very affordable for middle New Zealand. We are not going to sign up to agreements that stop this or future Governments putting well-designed environmental protections in place. We are not going to sign up to provisions on ISPs that make every mother in Lower Hutt worry that the TPP electronic police are going to fly in from Houston to cart their 16 year old son off to jail for file-sharing with his girlfriend.

    If and when we get TPP in place, extreme claims that the sky is going to fall in will be made, irrespective of a balanced and sober reading of the final agreed TPP texts. It will be ground hog day for Chicken Licken. I recall, for example, at the end of the Uruguay Round where I was our chief negotiator, absurd claims that the Uruguay Round TRIPs agreement would ‘destroy the Maori economy’, in spite of the fact that the vast bulk of Maori assets, today valued at $40 billion, are in the export sector with much to gain from the Uruguay Round.

    That exciting new dairy export company near Taupo called Miraka, the Maori name for milk, that combines significant Maori business assets, locally available renewable geothermal energy and overseas capital invested in it, simply would not exist without the Uruguay Round export subsidy disciplines that allowed our dairy industry to grow against grossly unfair competition, along with the more recent FTAs that created markets and created the interest of Asian investors in investing in New Zealand’s future alongside our own people.

    Closing the Deal

    Now that Congress has spoken, it is show time. I have learned never to be dogmatic about time-tables, but the scenario that I and my negotiators are working to is that we have to get the basic political deal done by the end of July, including finalising all the chapter texts, leaving only legal rectification by experts to be done thereafter.

    The deal is ripe for the picking politically, which does not mean it will be easy to reach up and pick nice ripe fruit without damage. I have been deeply involved in the endgame of some pretty significant international negotiations over the last few decades and sometimes it isn’t very pretty. If I told true stories of what I have seen – right up to and including fist fights and negotiators sobbing over the phone, I really don’t think people would believe me.

    So please remember this: nothing is ‘too big to fail’. Nor can I be 100% sure that all twelve countries will arrive on the right page at the same time. The one thing I can say with near certainty is that in the course of the endgame, something will come out of left field that we knew about but which no-one had seen before as a deal-breaker. Anyone involved in settling the last major political fight in the Uruguay Round, which was over audio-visuals, would have anticipated that that issue would be last deal-breaker that needed to be resolved. Even then, technical negotiators in services were still arguing with each other when the bell rang to stop.

    But I think we will get there – metaphorically, I have called it in some interviews a 7/10 probability. It is not going to be a perfect deal – there never will be a perfect deal because compromises are now required. From a New Zealand point of view, the assessment my team of negotiators, led by Dr David Walker, and I have made and conveyed to other Ministers including the Prime Minister is that there is potentially a landing zone for a good deal that will indeed shape the future of trade and investment integration in the Asia Pacific region and quite decisively.

    I would be much more positive in public than this, but for the current lack of clarity on a possible landing zone for our most important export – dairy. It is not that there is nothing on the table on dairy. Nor, let me assure the deep pessimists, do I believe there is any possibility of dairy simply being ‘excluded’ simply because it is too sensitive. That of course would take New Zealand right out of TPP. The issue for us is the quality of the deal on dairy and it is nowhere near there yet.

    That will change because it has to change. People have not been putting their real cards on the table until they knew they had to. And until we heard from the US Congress, they were never going to do that. It is going to be an interesting few weeks.

    Ladies and gentlemen, if the negotiators representing the 12 countries involved in TPP – almost 40% of global GDP – can pull this together, it will indeed be a big deal. Andrew Robb, my Australian counterpart, calls this ‘the biggest trade deal since the Uruguay Round’. I think he is right. And if we can do it, the TPP bus will not stop finally at the Tokyo station – Japan being among the last TPP entrants. TPP will indeed shape the future integration of the region and possibly strategic thinking elsewhere.

    The future for New Zealand is not to shut up shop, to be fearful of foreigners, foreign investment, even targeted migration and suspicious of all Trade Agreements – my word, it must be so depressing to be part of the anti-trade movement. We need to engage with the world. We should back ourselves. We have every reason to be optimistic about our place in the world in the first quarter of the 21st Century. Concluding a high quality TPP Agreement is part of that future.

  • 25 Jun 2015 3:32 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement today regarding final passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA):

    "With the bipartisan approval of Trade Promotion Authority, the U.S. Congress has prioritized economic growth and job creation here at home. In doing so, our leaders in Washington proved they could tune out the populists and demagogues of the left and the right and take action on an important measure to put our economy back on track. 

    "The Obama administration and Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress deserve great credit for setting aside partisanship and working together to pass this bill. It should serve as a model for how important things can get done going forward. 

    "The business and agriculture community's near universal support played an important role in the passage of TPA. Members of Congress heard from thousands of small businesses, major exporters with operations across the nation, and firms from every sector-including manufacturers, services providers, and agriculture.? On behalf of these millions of workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs, we're pleased our voice was heard."

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

  • 24 Jun 2015 3:14 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)
    By Caitlin Sykes Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

    This week, a look at Kiwi small business owners making inroads into the US.

    Adam Bennett is NZTE's trade commissioner for the US West Coast.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/small-business-sme/news/article.cfm?c_id=85&objectid=11467963

  • 09 May 2015 9:22 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    To address the ongoing debate over international investment and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has published a primer on the subject as well as a two-page version of the “13 Myths about ISDS” section that appears toward the close of the broader document.

    Cross-Border Investment - International Agreements and Dispute Settlement.pdf

    13 Myths about Investment Agreements and ISDS.pdf

  • 07 May 2015 12:22 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Minister of Revenue, Todd McClay today welcomed the release of an officials’ issues paper that seeks feedback on suggestions for helping to ensure that non-resident investors pay an appropriate amount of tax. 

    The focus of the issues paper is the current non-resident withholding tax rules on interest earned in New Zealand by non-residents.

    “The issues paper raises questions around potential weaknesses in the tax treatment of interest earned by non-residents,” Mr McClay says. “The issues paper tests what changes are appropriate.”

    “Non-resident withholding tax has not been significantly reformed since it was introduced in 1964. It was originally designed when financial transactions were much less complex than today.”

    Mr McClay says that without changes to the rules, there is an incentive and ability for non-residents to shift profits out of New Zealand with no or minimal New Zealand tax paid. He says that Inland Revenue’s audit activity had uncovered instances where large multinationals were using sophisticated techniques to defeat the tax rules.

    “This matter is a domestic law issue and is consistent with the aims of the OECD’s action plan to tackle base erosion and profit shifting.  Acting to remedy this deficiency in our tax laws is part of New Zealand’s response to the issue of multinational tax avoidance” Mr McClay says.

    “The Government has already taken steps to tighten the thin capitalisation rules to stop foreign firms from artificially loading debt onto their New Zealand operations in order to minimise their New Zealand tax. New Zealand has also signed and ratified the OECD multilateral tax assistance convention which, together with a growing network of bilateral tax treaties, allows information sharing with other countries to limit tax avoidance opportunities.”

    “We’ll continue to support the OECD work to eliminate opportunities for companies to avoid paying tax” says Mr McClay.

    The issues paper, NRWT: related party and branch lending can be found at www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz 

  • 29 Apr 2015 11:08 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The American Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce the launch of the 2015 AmCham – DHL Express Success & Innovation Awards, held in conjunction with Hawaiian Airlines. The awards celebrate business achievement between New Zealand and the United States. 

    Two-way trade between New Zealand and the USA hit a new high in the last year of $11.22 billion, an increase of 29.81% on 2014 and accounts for 11.2% per cent of New Zealand’s total earnings from overseas trade.

    AmCham works closely with its members and companies trading with the USA to enhance and expand business and trade relationships within the private and public sectors.

    "The annual Success & Innovation Awards provide an opportunity to showcase those companies that have demonstrated imagination, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as honour and celebrate their achievements." says AmCham Executive Director Mike Hearn.

    Awards categories are:       

    -         Exporter of the Year to the USA - with export revenues to the USA up to NZ $500,000

    -         Exporter of the Year to the USA - revenues from NZ $501,000 to NZ $5 million and

    -         Exporter of the Year to the USA - revenues over NZ $5 million

    -         Importer of the Year from the USA

    -         Investor of the Year for New Zealand companies investing in the US, as well as US companies investing in New Zealand

    -         The Eric & Kathy Hertz Award for Citizen Diplomacy

    A Supreme Award winner is selected from winners of each of these awards. 

    AmCham also makes an award to the Supporter of the Year. 

    The winners of the importer and exporter awards receive between $1,000 and $2,000 of free shipping with DHL Express and 100,000 air miles from Hawaiian Airlines

    Award winners will be announced at a gala awards & 50th Anniversary dinner at the Pullman Hotel Auckland on 20th August.

    Companies interested in entering the 2015 awards can find further information at www.amcham.co.nz or by contacting Mr Hearn – email mike@amcham.co.nz   or phone 09 309 914009 309 9140.  Entries close at 5.00 pm on 29 May. Finalists will be announced on 14 July and the winners announced at the black tie awards dinner on 20 August.  

    Previous winners of the Supreme Award have included ZESPRI International, Peace Software, Airways Corporation, HumanWare, Tenon, Zeacom, Specialist Marine Interiors, Fonterra and Christchurch Engine Centre, Buckley Systems, Vista Entertainment, Greenshell New Zealand and Orion Systems International.

    In addition to AmCham, DHL Express and Hawaiian Airlines, the awards are supported by: ASB Bank, Baldwins, Fonterra Co-operative, Prescient Marketing & Communications, the Pullman Hotel Auckland and The Business Herald


    APPLICATION FORM

    If you have any questions contact

    Mike Hearn

    Tel 09-309-914009-309-914009-309-914009-309-9140

    mike@amcham.co.nz

  • 16 Apr 2015 7:39 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Air New Zealand to fly direct to the heart of Texas - the gateway to southern hospitality

    Air New Zealand has today announced it will start flying to Houston, Texas from December this year, opening up a direct connection between New Zealand and America’s South for the first time.

    Air New Zealand will fly its completely refitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft between Auckland and Houston up to five times a week opening up the state of Texas as well as popular nearby tourist states such as Louisiana and Florida.

    The new route is set to become the fastest way for Kiwis to get to popular East Coast and Midwest destinations, such as New York and Chicago.

    Today’s announcement means Air New Zealand will soon be offering direct services to five popular North American destinations – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Hawaii and Houston.

    Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline is hugely excited to be adding Houston to its list of international destinations, particularly as the move comes hard on the heels of the airline’s recent announcement that it will also begin flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December.

    “We are absolutely committed to expanding our Pacific Rim network. Houston offers our customers direct access into the heart of the American South and a world of new tourism experiences. Not only is Houston home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center and Mission Control and one of the world’s largest livestock shows and rodeos, it’s a great jumping off point for the home of country music in Nashville, Tennessee; the jazz capital of New Orleans; and the resorts, theme parks and beaches of Florida. Houston is also a key gateway for Mexico and the rest of Central America and the Caribbean.

    “The great American road trip features on many bucket lists. The addition of Houston to our network will mean our customers can fly direct to Texas and then set out to explore one of the most vibrant and fascinating parts of American culture and experience down home southern hospitality through the food, music and sights of Texas and the American South. It’s a great part of the USA for visitors to immerse themselves in and I know it’s going to have tremendous appeal for our customers.

    “We also look forward to welcoming more visitors to New Zealand from the southern and Midwest states and major East Coast cities where the option to connect through Houston will effectively make New Zealand’s tourism proposition more accessible than ever before.”

    Air New Zealand will code share from Houston to other key USA domestic destinations as well as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean with Star Alliance partner United Airlines, which has a large Houston based hub. United will code share on the Air New Zealand flight from Houston to Auckland and points beyond.

    Tickets are expected to go on sale next month, with flights commencing mid December.

  • 09 Apr 2015 1:37 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Assistant Secretary of State Daniel R. Russel remarks on TPP to the National Bureau of Asian Research Roundtable

    As prepared

    Thank you, President Ellings, for the kind welcome, and for bringing together this distinguished group.

    It’s good to be in Seattle, and with the National Bureau of Asia Research. Congratulations on NBR’s 50th anniversary. For half a century now, you have provided high quality, independent research on issues facing the U.S. and the world, from energy trade to security strategy and beyond. The strength of America’s academic community and think tanks is envied around the world. It’s particularly beneficial to have institutions like NBR around the country, so that the voices in our national foreign policy conversation reflect the diversity of views across our land. So thank you for all that you do.

    Let me start by telling you about why I’m here in Seattle. It’s crunch time for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Secretary Kerry has asked his team to get out around the country, talk to people who are interested in trade with Asia, address any concerns folks may have, and spread the word about TPP’s benefits. So, in addition to meeting with you, I’m talking with major exporters, including member companies of the Business Council for International Understanding, and meeting with local press. I’m also giving remarks later tonight at the University of Washington Jackson School to talk about the larger context of U.S. relations with Asia, beyond trade.

    So here, I’ll summarize that context briefly and then focus on trade.

    The Asia-Pacific region – and you know the U.S. is a Pacific power – is one of the world’s most dynamic regions. It contains the top four most populous countries, the three largest economies, many of the world’s fastest growing economies, and a rapidly growing middle class of over half-a-billion consumers. U.S. trade with the Asia-Pacific region was $2.9 trillion in 2013.

    Nations across the region face choices: Are they going to move toward greater political freedom and respect for universal rights and values? Are they going to open their economies while protecting workers, investors, and the environment? Are they going to strengthen the international and regional system of rule of law to treat all countries fairly? And by doing that, avoid conflict that could lead to loss of life and crippling economic consequences for all of us?

    We can’t take the answers to any of these questions for granted, and they’re all interconnected. Our ability to shape the answers depends on our economic, diplomatic, and military strength. So when we lead on trade and investment, it helps us across the board. Free trade agreements, like the ones we have with Australia, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea, benefit many American businesses and our relationships with those countries.

    Trade is good for your local economy, as you know. Goods exports support about 402,000 jobs in this state – the third highest of any state, according to the Department of Commerce’s most recent estimate – so you’re very well-integrated into the global economy. Of your exports, thirty-six percent already go to Asia, including over $2.6 billion in exports of goods. And in a recent five-year stretch, jobs in Seattle based on the export of services, like software, grew 54%.

    Concluding TPP is essential to President Obama’s top priority of creating good jobs in America. It also is the most important thing we can do for U.S. relations with Asia this year.

    This agreement will include 11 other countries that already account for 33 percent of your state’s goods exports, worth $26 billion (average from 2012 to 2014). It will grow America’s overall exports by more than $123 billion by 2025, according to a study by the renowned independent Peterson Institute. And those exports will support many more high-paying jobs.

    Just consider the barriers that our workers and businesses are currently facing in the Asia Pacific, the world’s fastest-growing region. American autoworkers are handicapped by tariffs that can reach 30 percent in Malaysia. American farmers are forced to contend with tariffs as high as 40 percent on poultry in Vietnam. Meanwhile, foreign competitors have struck trade deals that give their own exporters an advantage, getting their products to consumers in those same markets with significantly lower or even no tariffs.

    TPP also gives us the opportunity to protect workers and the environment with the highest and most enforceable standards of any trade agreement ever. The TPP will include groundbreaking new commitments to protect our oceans, forests, and wildlife. And it will allow us to address specific concerns about labor conditions in certain TPP countries, bringing improvements on the ground to workers across the region.

    In addition, TPP will allow us to tackle a number of issues that have never been addressed in trade pacts - for instance, it will help ensure that state-owned enterprises compete fairly with our private companies.

    It also will ensure that Americans whose businesses and jobs depend, either directly or indirectly, on innovation, invention and creativity enjoy the benefits of that work. This includes 40 million workers across the country, and a lot of them are here in Seattle. We have focused a lot of attention on ensuring strong outcomes in the TPP that will promote the digital economy and ensure a free and open Internet. We also have developed strong and balanced intellectual property rules that protect and promote invention and the creation of new products and services, while enabling consumers to access the full benefits of scientific, technological, and medical innovation, as well as new media and the arts.

    Our competitors’ growing number of FTAs in the region promote rules that reflect their values, vision of the future, and competitive strengths—not ours. This doesn’t promote sustainable, shared economic growth, intellectual property rights, or maintenance of a free and open Internet. These other rules don’t tackle the growing problem of unfair competition from state-owned enterprises.

    In short: We need TPP to promote economic growth and support high-paying jobs, and to advance our values and show that our ongoing commitment to the region extends beyond security. TPP is important to the long-time partners I mentioned with whom we already have FTAs. It’s important to new partners like Vietnam and Malaysia as they seek to further reform and develop their economies. And it’s important to Japan as Prime Minister Abe works on structural reforms, the “third arrow” of his domestic economic recovery programs. While we have more work to do with Japan, to resolve differences in areas such as agriculture and autos, we’re confident we can get this done.

    TPP is about giving Americans a fair shot in these markets. Because we know one thing beyond doubt: with a level playing field, when trade is fair, our workers; our businesses do very well. And the businesses and workers here in the Seattle-Tacoma area and in Washington State prove that each and every day.

    As my friend and colleague Ambassador Mike Froman, our U.S. Trade Representative, has said, “the finish line for TPP negotiations is in sight.” Negotiators are meeting around the clock, and countries are moving on issues that seemed intractable months ago.

    More good jobs and a stronger American middle class are on the table. So I hope we can count on your support, and the support of people around Seattle and across Washington for the Trade Promotion Authority we need to bring this agreement home, and for the TPP agreement itself.

    We also see TPP as the best pathway to a larger Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. But in the meantime, we’re continuing to move forward with partners outside the TPP. The biggest, of course, is China.

    Exports from the Seattle-Tacoma area to China went up nearly $5 billion from 2009 to 2013 alone. And we’re working to help you increase that number.

    Our diplomacy with China has allowed us to expand the areas where we work together, while managing our clear differences. And that diplomacy over many years, including bringing China into the WTO, has supported China’s economic rise, enabling trade and increased exports to China. In 2014 alone, we made important progress in at least four specific ways:

    Let’s start with the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings in Chicago. There, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman made great progress in getting China to open to imports of U.S. biotech corn and soy; medical devices and pharmaceuticals; and to give fair treatment to U.S. businesses facing the competition regulators.

    Second, at the 2014 Strategic and Economic Dialogue, our biggest bilateral annual gathering, we intensified negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The “negative” list is next, and we’re asking that it be very high quality – narrowly tailored and widely open to foreign investment, especially since our openness to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has allowed new Chinese FDI into the U.S. to surpass our FDI in China.

    While we remain concerned about China’s recent tightening of its foreign investment climate and its seeming disregard of certain principles of a free and fair market, we strongly believe that a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty holds the promise of further opening China’s market to foreign investors and creating an improved investment environment for U.S. companies.

    Third, during President Obama’s trip to Beijing, we reached a key agreement to expand visa validity for business visitors to ten years, a boon for our tourism industry and a win for our companies with interests in China. We also achieved an important bilateral understanding to help the WTO’s International Technology Agreement move forward. We subsequently suffered a setback and there’s still a lot of work to do, but we remain hopeful.

    Fourth, our landmark climate progress, also during the trip, is important for long-term public health, and economic health, and it supports the green economy.

    As you can see, we have a very full economic docket with China, and as I’ll detail in my remarks this evening, a much broader agenda in our bilateral relationship. Together the United States and China have launched a range of new initiatives to boost clean energy research, make carbon capture and storage a reality, link up our cities as they pursue low-carbon solutions, and promote green trade between our countries.

    All of you, and the entire Seattle area, have many important roles to play in America’s economic relationship with Asia. Seattle’s impact reaches well beyond the quantity of your trading and investments – many of your companies are known and lauded for the quality of your relationships, the ethical standards you adhere to, and work to instill throughout your supply chains. It’s not just protecting workers, it’s providing them with skills training while protecting the environment and countering corruption.

    And later tonight, I’ll speak to Seattle’s role beyond economics – as a center of academic research, a welcoming host of students from the region, and a home to vibrant Asian diaspora communities. With your continued help, the U.S. and Asia will continue to grow and prosper together.

    Thank you. Let’s open it up for discussion.