New Zealand is a trading nation that benefits from international trade rules and access to offshore markets, and now more than ever we have heard a strong message that New Zealanders want to have their say on our country’s trade negotiations.

With the establishment of a new Trade Policy Engagement Unit (TPEU), the Ministry has focused on lifting the quality of consultation on trade negotiations and the Government’s Trade for All agenda. This is an improvement on the past where those overseeing negotiations were also responsible for engagement, balancing the increasing expectations that come with complex trade deals and the need to communicate them effectively. The TPEU is a tangible demonstration of the Ministry’s commitment to meaningful and comprehensive consultation.

Improvements include:

  • More information: Easy-to-access information ranging from short updates to technical detail on New Zealand’s trade negotiations is now available on the Ministry’s website, and shared through social media and stakeholder networks.
  • More face-to-face and online outreach: In the 2018-19 financial year, we supported 23 public consultation events and 14 hui throughout New Zealand. The Ministry launched an online ‘Have Your Say’ consultation website for Trade for All, as another way people can share their comments and submissions.
  • More listening, less talking: At our events, we spend less time repeating information already available on our website and more time answering questions. People can put their questions directly to our negotiators. This places the concerns and interests of the audience at the core of our engagement with them.
  • Turning ideas into action: New Zealanders’ views, comments, concerns and questions gathered through our engagement are shared with our negotiators and with our Trade Minister, informing how we approach trade talks.
  • More te reo Māori; e kia nei ko te mauri o te mana Māori.

We are committed to optimising our engagement and that means speaking with New Zealanders early on new trade topics so that the Government understands the breadth of New Zealanders’ views and can reflect them in our trade negotiations.

Deputy Secretary Trade and Economic Group Vangelis Vitalis discusses trade policy at a ‘Trade for All’ consultation meeting in Auckland. Credit: Michael Morris