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Kiwis supportive but ignorant of TPP

JASON KRUPP
Last updated 12:23 05/10/2012

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More than half of the Kiwi population support the Trans Pacific Partnership, though just as many have never even heard of the free trade agreement.

That's according to research commissioned by trade lobby group NZUS Council, which polled 1000 working age New Zealanders on their views of the deal.

The next negotiating round of the TPP kicks of in Auckland in December.

The study found 57 per cent of respondents were in favour of TPP, but that 51.6 per cent had never even heard of it.

Furthermore, only one in ten respondents could identify the trade pact by name.

It also found that 60 per cent of those polled have very little idea of how New Zealand traded with the rest of the world.

TPP is currently being negotiated behind closed doors between nine countries, including New Zealand, Australia and the US, and aims to create a common legal framework to promote trade between signatories.

No official details on the deal have been disclosed, but several leaks have raised the ire of civil groups over the pro-US changes it proposes to international copyright law, gray goods imports, generic medicines, and the freedom of internet service providers.

The deal would also clear the way for private businesses to sue the New Zealand government over legislation-related losses, a feature that is already in place in many of the country's existing trade deals.

The survey asked respondents to rank the benefits and concerns of free trade, although there was no reference to specific impacts on New Zealand.

In the benefits column, more opportunities for exporters and more jobs ranked highest, followed by more choice for consumers and better rules for international business.

On the negative side, potential job losses ranked highest, followed by increased competition for local businesses, the inability to make your own laws in some areas, and lastly by the negative impact on the environment.

The polling group was 60 per cent in favour of seeing New Zealand more connected with the world and wanted to learn more about TPP, and 64 per cent wanted to see more trade with the US.

In a statement NZUS Council executive director Stephen Jacobi said: "The research is an important contribution to the debate around free trade. It shows New Zealanders are prepared to see where the TPP negotiation leads rather than give into scaremongering."

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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