Matariki is a time for reflection and renewal, as I experienced at the fantastic celebration in the Coronation Hall in Milton last Thursday.
Having homecraft traders set up in the hall as we dined on delicious hangi and checked local produce and handicrafts provided a platform for many conversations, promotion of localism and enhancement of community spirit.
Trading is not just about economics. There’s a fundamental humanity to this most basic of interactions, as we acknowledge the contribution of others and make our own contributions to the lives of others in an exchange of goods or services.
On a macro level, trade agreements reflect these same principles. While overseas last week, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced that New Zealand and the European Union had signed a ground-breaking free trade agreement that will provide significant new access to a massive international market.
The deal also ensures we continue to be interdependent on friends from like-minded countries who share our values of environmental sustainability, respect for human rights, and a reliable rules-based order.
As a trading nation, we rely on international customers to purchase our goods and services, and one in four New Zealanders’ jobs depend on trade.
This new agreement is great news, especially for our local businesses, workers, farmers and growers, and it’s expected to boost our exports to the European Union by up to $1.8 billion per year by 2035.
From day one, the deal will cut costs for Kiwi exporters, with tariff savings of $100m per year on New Zealand exports — the highest immediate tariff savings of any New Zealand free trade agreement ever.
It will also provide significant new opportunities for Otago and Southland exporters to boost and diversify their trade, helping them to succeed and to grow jobs.
On top of this, trade helps to bring down the cost of living by delivering higher incomes and lower prices for many of the goods Kiwi households consume.
That will make a real difference to inflation and the cost of living.
Our products, such as kiwifruit, seafood, onions, honey, wine, butter, cheese, beef and sheep meat, are some of the very best in the world. And that’s a testament to New Zealand farmers, growers and exporters.
We’re committed to backing them by providing as many trading opportunities as possible, and our agenda has huge momentum.
Since taking office in 2017, we’ve secured or upgraded seven free trade agreements.
There’s still more to do, and we will continue to position New Zealand globally as a great place to trade with and visit, as we work hard to support businesses and grow our economy.
• More information on the NZ-EU FTA can be found at mfat.govt.nz/eufta.