The talking is done, the negotiations are done, the European and United Kingdom Free Trade Agreements have been signed…but now the hard mahi really begins.
That was the overwhelming message across yesterday’s Te Taumata Regional Trade Hui at Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Marae in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Attended by Māori businesses, global ambassadors, Government representatives and dozens of other organisations, yesterday’s Regional Trade Hui is the seventh in a series of hui that have been held across the motu in recent years.
But while the focus for previous hui has been on providing Māori input to those developing free trade agreements, yesterday’s priority was about making the new trade opportunities a reality.
Te Taumata Chair Chris Karamea Insley says the opportunity cost of not implementing the Free Trade Agreements effectively is in the billions of dollars.
“A huge number of people have worked tirelessly to get these FTAs across the line – we held them accountable for getting the deals done, but now the responsibility is on us to leverage them for maximum outcomes for whānau.
“We heard directly from the EU Ambassador to New Zealand, along with the Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, about how ground-breaking the EU FTA is.
“It is the first EU trade agreement that incorporates a specific indigenous chapter, and it puts us on a level playing field with our global competitors.”
Te Taumata will be rolling out a series of news stories over the coming days and weeks relating to the different speakers at yesterday’s Regional Trade Hui. Stay up to date with the latest news and information here, and check out two of the other themes – Creativity and Innovation, and Climate Change – below.
Creativity and Innovation – critical success factors
The day started with a powerful introduction to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and its innovative whānau developments, setting the perfect scene for the impact Māori can make at home and on the world stage.
“The world wants to embrace Māori brands and work with Māori businesses – coming out of the pandemic, global consumers want to connect with brands that reflect their values,” says Joe Harawira, Managing Director of Wai Manuka.
Joe has recently returned from an Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono trade delegation to Singapore and Thailand – an experience that enabled him to gain invaluable offshore consumer insights, firsthand.
“That’s what makes Māori products special – when you weave your culture into your brand – that’s our point of difference.
“It is our creativity and innovation that sets us apart, but it can be difficult to look to the far horizon when you’re just trying to survive each day. The future is right in front of us – together we can make it happen.”
But critical to retaining and growing the innovation competitive edge will be ensuring future talent and capability.
Recently appointed Te Taumata director and self-described serial innovator, Naomi Manu, says the future success of the rapidly growing Māori economy depends on building capability.
“If we cannot attract young people into STEM, we will be bereft of innovation and talent, and there will be a massive opportunity cost for our country. As we seek to catapult forward, we have to consider these things.
“The Māori population is a structurally youthful population – we have to cultivate curious minds and grow Māori representation in the tech workforce, currently only 4% of that workforce, and only 2% of the science sector.
“Tech is our fastest growing export sector, but we need to rapidly build capability for this future that we cannot yet even imagine.”
Climate Change – our new Trade challenge
Capability is not the only challenge on the table, with the impacts of climate change already a clear and present reality.
Charlotte Frater is MFAT’s Chief Negotiator for the Agreement on Climate Change Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) – and effort that is roundly supported by Te Taumata.
“ACCT is currently being negotiated with a small number of like-minded countries and it will be a unique trade agreement – in that it’s not about physical trade as such, but rather a focus on showing how trade policy and architecture can contribute positively to climate change and sustainability challenges.
“Solving these challenges will require global economic transformation. It is an urgent task and it will need every policy lever. This agreement won’t be the silver bullet – but it will be a huge help in terms of levelling the playing field for renewable alternatives.”
Once the agreement is concluded – hopefully by the end of 2023 – it will be a living agreement which will be open to other entrants over time.