How do we consult on free trade agreements
Consultation usually starts before negotiations begin and continues until an agreement is ratified.
- follow us on social media (facebook, twitter: @MFATgovtNZ) to find out about upcoming consultations
- check out the MFAT website or let us know that you’d like to be kept up to date by emailing FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz
- make a submission
- come to one of our consultation meetings
- participate in the parliamentary examination process, which includes a separate process for
public submissions. You can find out about this here (external link).
MFAT also meets with a wide range of groups that have an interest in trade policy.
As the Crown’s Treaty partner, it is important that Māori have the opportunity to influence the development of policies which affect their interests and the growth of the Māori economy.
The Government holds dedicated engagement with Māori on trade agreements to:
- provide for an active partnership
- respond to the range of needs, aspirations rights and interests as a Crown Treaty partner
This can involve hui-a-iwi in regions around the country or consultation hui with roopū that have expressed an interest in trade agreements such as Waitangi Tribunal Claimants, the Iwi Chairs Forum, Federation of Māori Authorities and Māori health practitioners and researchers.
We publicise consultation hui with Māori on the MFAT website.
As part of ongoing consultations, the views of New Zealanders are collated and reported to Ministers. Officials take those views into account when seeking negotiating mandates from Ministers.
National Interest Analysis
For each trade agreement, a summary of the consultation that has taken place is included in a National Interest Analysis (NIA) which is publically available on the MFAT website. The NIA is created after the trade negotiation has concluded and the results can be analysed. A recent example of this is the National Interest Analysis for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Is there scrutiny before trade agreements are ratified?
Yes – there are a number of steps that need to occur before a trade agreement can be ratified and brought into force for New Zealand. This involves scrutiny from the New Zealand Parliament and New Zealand public.
1. Following negotiations (on a multilateral trade agreement or ‘major bilateral trade agreement of particular significance’), the text of an agreement is finalised and MFAT prepares a Cabinet Paper and a National Interest Analysis (NIA). The NIA provides objective analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement, including a summary of the consultation that has taken place.
2. The Cabinet paper and NIA are presented to Cabinet for approval.
a. Following Cabinet approval, the trade agreement and NIA will be presented to the House of Representatives where the agreement text and NIA is subject to the parliamentary treaty examination process. Within this process, the trade agreement and NIA is scrutinised by the Select Committee, the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee (FADTC). The NIA is the key working document used by FADTC to scrutinise New Zealand’s ratification of trade agreements and is made publically available on the MFAT website.
b. FADTC also seeks written and oral submissions from the general public and produces a report on the trade agreement, before it is presented back to the House of Representatives.
Participating in negotiations does not necessarily mean that New Zealand will ratify the resulting trade agreement. New Zealand can only accurately consider the full regulatory impact of a trade agreement after the negotiations have concluded and the full shape of the commitments are known. This is covered as part of the extended NIA.
While negotiations are underway, we do our best to update New Zealanders on progress without giving away information which would hurt the national interest, such as New Zealand’s negotiating bottom lines and information our negotiating partners have provided to us in confidence.
Up to date information on the Government’s free trade agreements (FTAs) currently under negotiation can be found here:
- the European Union-New Zealand FTA
- the New Zealand-China FTA upgrade
- the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
- the New Zealand-Pacific Alliance FTA
- the New Zealand-India FTA
Read more about how we engage New Zealanders on trade agreements and how you can have your say.
Where can I find all the agreements that New Zealand has with other countries?
New Zealand Treaties Online (external link) maintains a ‘Treaties in Progress’ section containing information on all the international agreements New Zealand is in the process of negotiating, concluding, ratifying or amending.
There are a number of different government agencies involved in negotiating treaties and the lead government agency for a treaty is responsible for keeping the ‘Treaties in Progress’ section up to date. MFAT’s International Treaty Making Guide [PDF, 484 KB] provides additional information on the treaty-making process and guidelines for consultation including the Strategy for Engaging with Māori on International Treaties.