Te Taumata congratulates both the New Zealand and UK governments following yesterday’s announcement towards a new Free Trade Agreement together.

As New Zealand moves out of COVID-19 lockdown, Te Taumata chair Chris Karamea Insley says it is heartening to see the two countries move with haste to commence trade discussions, given many Maori organisations – especially those in the primary sector – are exporters and hurting from the impacts of the lockdown.

He noted a priority for the negotiations is the removal of tariffs.

“Maori are disproportionately impacted by these high tariffs where even a small reduction will have a material impact on the lives of our whanau,” he says.

He says many Maori organisations are systematically moving up the value chains in more high value products, diversifying away from traditional commodity exports. The UK with its large and relatively wealthy population must be a focus for these high value products he says.

“This has to be a priority to the new negotiations. COVID-19 has forced us across the world to challenge the business-as-usual rules and conventions of the recent and distant past.

“I look forward to exploring new and more innovative ways of conducting trade together, especially digital technologies to enable not only the trade of both traditional goods but also the trade of knowledge, ideas, information and services, such as finance and investment, where cities like London are at the heart of finance and investment sectors.

“So much more development could be enabled by access to development capital where traditional New Zealand lenders have shied away from investment with Māori,” says Mr Insley.

While New Zealand has made real progress on climate with the current government, Mr Insley says he is clear that a lot of the real innovations around tackling climate change through alignment of financial instruments has originated in countries like the UK and certainly Europe.

“The development of new and smart emissions reductions technologies and adaptation approaches have also originated in the UK and Europe. Here again, there is much to be learned and shared together.

“So again, I’m heartened the two countries have moved quickly towards a Free Trade Agreement together. I look forward to participating and contributing to the discussion of a new and innovative agreement that tackles the fundamentals like tariffs but more forward-looking and innovative towards a smart New Zealand and Maori economy which lifts our whanau,” says Mr Insley.