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Opportunities for Māori exporters and businesses
The Māori economy has an asset base estimated to be worth around $50 billion, contributing significantly to the growth of New Zealand’s economy. Much of Māori business exposure to trade comes from a relatively high share of land and other primary sector assets within the overall Māori asset base. Altogether, Māori enterprises account for 40 percent of New Zealand's forestry, 50 percent of the country’s fishing quota, 30 percent of sheep and beef production and 10 percent of dairy production.
Although the larger proportion of Māori assets are concentrated in the primary industries sector, there is increasing diversification into other areas e.g. geothermal, digital services, education, tourism and more recently, housing.
Many RCEP outcomes are expected to benefit Māori exporters and businesses including:
- A single rulebook covering all 15 markets, which has the potential to significantly reduce complexity, and therefore compliance costs, for Māori exporters;
- Improved goods market access into Indonesia for some primary sector products of relevance to Māori export businesses, including through tariff elimination on sheepmeat, beef, fish and fish products, liquid milk, grated or powdered cheese, honey, avocados, tomatoes and persimmons;
- Trade facilitation measures and improvements to address non-tariff barriers. For example RCEP creates an expectation that customs authorities will release ‘perishable goods’ such as seafood within six hours of arrival, including (in exceptional circumstances) release of such goods outside normal business hours, which should reduce spoilage and save exporters money;
- An avenue for New Zealand to address non-tariff barriers maintained by an RCEP country by providing for a consultation mechanism with clear and predictable processes and timeframes;
- On intellectual property, the outcomes on geographical indications (GIs) extend advantages previously secured in CPTPP to a wider group of trading partners. In particular, RCEP requires Parties to adopt or maintain due process and transparency obligations in respect of any regime they provide for the protection of GIs;
- RCEP does not contain Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions.
Protecting Māori interests
Recognising the Treaty of Waitangi
As has been the case with all of New Zealand’s free trade agreements since 2001, RCEP includes a Treaty of Waitangi clause reflecting the constitutional significance of the Treaty of Waitangi to New Zealand. The exception allows the Government to implement domestic policies in relation to Māori, including in fulfilment of the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty, without being obliged to offer equivalent treatment to persons of other countries that are party to the agreement.
The Treaty of Waitangi exception is just one of a number of exceptions and reservations which ensure that our government retains its right to regulate in the public interest. RCEP also protects the right of New Zealand governments to regulate for the environment, education, health and well-being of New Zealanders.
Protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore
Māori stakeholders expressed a particular interest in relation to the protection of Māori rights and interests in te reo Māori, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions, mātauranga Māori, indigenous flora and fauna and taonga species.
RCEP goes further than any of New Zealand’s other FTAs in recognising the importance of prior and informed consent, access and benefit sharing for accessing and using genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore (GRTKF). This is an important step forward at the international level to reaffirm the region’s commitment to the rights and interests of indigenous peoples in GRTKF. RCEP also retains the policy flexibility required for Parties to implement GRTKF measures most appropriate for their domestic circumstances.