Te Taumata urges New Zealand and its trade partners to carefully consider China’s request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as it has the potential to present significant benefits for Māori enterprise.

China’s commerce ministry confirmed on Thursday that the country had filed an application to join the CPTPP, as the world’s second-biggest economy looks to bolster its clout in trade.

However, consent from all 11 members is required to join, which could prove to be an obstacle to China’s bid as it faces ongoing trade friction with Australia and territorial disputes with Vietnam, another member. 

China will also have to make domestic reforms to qualify. The pact forbids practices such as subsidies to state-owned enterprises that distort competition.

However, Te Taumata believes China’s inclusion in the pact could further strengthen trade ties between Māori businesses and the Chinese economy.

While this has untold benefits for indigenous exporters, Te Taumata says New Zealand and other CPTPP countries need to exercise caution, ensuring our core values are not compromised.

The best interests of our Māori businesses and exporters need to be kept front of mind in this decision.

The CPTPP was signed by 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand in 2018.

Before that, it was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s regional influence.

Britain and Thailand have also signalled interest in joining the CPTPP. There is no indication at this stage that US President Joe Biden will seek to re-enter the agreement following the country’s withdrawal in 2017.