Trade – Citizen group condemns another secret trade deal

Source: It's Our Future

 

It’s Our Future has condemned today’s announcement of an agreement-in-principle between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

 

“When Labour came into Government we were told there was going to be a new approach to how we did these deals, however this deal seems to be surrounded in the same level of secrecy as the TPPA”, said It’s Our Future spokesperson Edward Miller. 

 

“New Zealanders have not forgotten about Labour’s TPPA turnaround. The Government needs to release the text of this agreement in principle now so we can assess whether this is in our interest, and give us a real say on whether the deal is signed or not.”

 

Miller also noted that this deal goes much further than just market access for New Zealand’s primary products and could have serious consequences for people’s lives.

 

“The United Kingdom is one of the few remaining WTO members that still opposes a waiver of intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines.”

 

“Currently the United Kingdom is acting as a barrier to equitable vaccine access for low-income countries, which, according to a recent UNCTAD report, could wipe $1.5 trillion off incomes in the Global South.”

 

“We are concerned that this deal will entrench those barriers instead of helping to break them down. We need to see the text to assess its consequences, and judge whether our Government considers it more important to support an equitable global vaccine rollout, or to reduce trade barriers with the countries that are blocking that rollout.”

Trade – Benefits all round in NZ-UK Free Trade Deal

Source: Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers says today’s announcement of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand is great news for consumers and farmers in both countries.
“The United Kingdom is walking the talk when it comes to promising a truly global Britain,” Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says.
“We congratulate the New Zealand team of negotiators, officials and politicians who have tenaciously pursued this deal. The result is impressive. It’s a job well done.”
Federated Farmers has a long history of supporting efforts to free up global trade and it takes every opportunity to get producers in other countries to embrace trade liberalization.
“There has been a worrying trend of growing protectionism for agricultural products since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“This FTA shows trade liberalisation remains the way forward globally,” Andrew says.
Feds believes it is difficult to overstate the importance of trade to New Zealand, with the movement of goods and services from and into the country being vital to the country’s generally high standard of living.
“In the past two years we have all been starkly reminded of this as our country has lent heavily on our global exporters to maintain our economy.
“Since the announcement of an agreement in principle between Australia and the UK in June, we have been hoping that New Zealand gets a deal of our own.
“Today we got there,” Andrew says.
The in-principal FTA will result in the full liberalisation of all trade between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The deal will involve transition periods for many key agricultural goods, some key details are:
-Cheese to be fully liberalised after 5 years, with a duty free transitional quota of 24,000 tonnes increasing to 48,000 tonnes
-Butter to be fully liberalised after 5 years, with a duty free transitional quota of 7,000 tonnes increasing to 15,000 tonnes
-Beef to be fully liberalised after 15 years, with a duty free transitional volume of 12,000 tonnes increasing to 60,000 tonnes
-Sheep meat to be fully liberalised after 15 years, with a duty free transitional quota of 35,000 tonnes increasing to 50,000 tonnes
-Apples will be fully liberalised after 3 years, with a seasonal transitional quota of 20,000 tonnes.
-Vegetable seeds for sowing will be fully liberalised after entry into force
-Onions will be fully liberalised after entry into force
-Wine will be fully liberalised after entry into force
“And now our attention will turn on the European Union. Feds would like to see EU match this ambition in its FTA negotiations with New Zealand,” Andrew says.

MotorSport – Round 1 postponed amid Covid uncertainties

Source: Toyota

Motorsport Promoter Speed Works Events has postponed its November meeting at Hampton Downs, meaning a new start date for the 2021-2022 Toyota 86 Championship.

The postponement of the November 12-14 event means the opening round of the championship will be the Pukekohe round on December 3-5 and the championship final will now move to Hampton Downs on 22 -24 April 2022.
 
“We were fully supportive of the change in the circumstances and hopefully a small delay will allow drivers and teams to make the most of the opportunity of additional preparation time,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand Motorsport Manager Nicolas Caillol.  
 
“We will of course have to keep our eye firmly focussed on the developing situation and adjust accordingly if we need to alter any further dates.”
 
The revised dates for what will be the biggest and likely most hotly-contested championship in the category’s history are as follows:
 
Toyota 86 Championship 2021 – 2022
 
Round 1 – Pukekohe Park Raceway – December 3-5
Round 2 – Highlands Motorsport Park – January 14-16
Round 3 – Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna – January 21- 23
Round 4 – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – February 11-13
Round 5 – Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo – March 25-27
Round 6 – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – April 22-24
 
http://www.toyota.co.nz/racing/
 
http://www.toyotagazooracing.co.nz

Trade – New Zealand’s onion growers and exporters applaud in-principle agreement of the UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement

Source: Horticulture New Zealand

New Zealand’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the in-principle agreement of the UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA), saying that it will ensure that this country’s onion exports continue to grow as the world comes to terms with Covid.
‘Trade and exporting benefits a diverse range of New Zealand businesses. Without clear trading arrangements, improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like the United Kingdom,’ says Onions NZ Chief Executive, James Kuperus.
‘Of immediate benefit to the onion sector is the expectation of tariffs being eliminated on onions, once the agreement comes into force.
‘The New Zealand onion sector is extremely grateful for the hard work of New Zealand’s negotiators and diplomats, who have worked tirelessly to conclude this agreement. The New Zealand team has had to join Zoom calls with their counterparts at extremely inconvenient times of the night, for example.’
The conclusion of this agreement will benefit onion growers and regional communities, from Pukekohe to Canterbury. The tariff on New Zealand onions is currently 8%. New Zealand currently exports $11 million worth of onions to the United Kingdom annually.
Onions are an important rotation crop for many vegetable growers. Having onions in a rotation allows growers to rotate between other crops such as lettuces, potatoes, carrots etc, which helps to control pests and diseases.
In 2019, the New Zealand onion industry was worth $200 million back to the grower, 85% of which came from exports. 

Trade – BusinessNZ and ExportNZ welcome NZ-UK FTA announcement

Source: BusinessNZ

BusinessNZ and ExportNZ welcome today’s announcement of an agreement in principle for a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom that could be worth an extra billion dollars in export earnings for New Zealand.
BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said the FTA looked to be a high quality deal that will give New Zealand exporters to the UK a largely tariff-free future, along with a number of immediate wins.
“This is a great result for trade between our two countries and opens the door to New Zealand welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP, which will further strengthen that agreement as well,” Mr Hope said.
ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard said exporters will be very happy with the deal.
“This is not only a good deal for our goods exports to the UK, but has a lot in it for our services exporters, including business visas for travel, the intention to work on mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and no barriers for professional services businesses.   In a tough time of Covid-19 this is a shot in the arm.”
Catherine Beard said the Minister of Trade and our lead negotiators should be congratulated on a job well done.
“Now all we need is to get our border working again so our exporters can get over there and make the most of the new opportunities.”

Culture and Heritage – Funding flows to Te Waipounamu arts culture and heritage sector

Source: Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Waipounamu arts, culture and heritage organisations will receive $2.68 million from the Cultural Sector Innovation Fund, with funds flowing to 33 projects after Te Urungi events in Ōtautahi, Ōtepoti and Murihiku. Further funding awards from an event held in Hokitika will be confirmed in the coming weeks, and a final South Island event will take place for Tauihu-o-te-Waka Marlborough and Whakatū, in Nelson on 10-12 December.
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage has published details of the latest funding awards here on its website.
Strong demand saw 30 project proposals submitted by event participants in Ōtautahi, Ōtepoti and Murihiku and a further 53 proposals seeking $20,000 each in seed funding. Eight project proposals are being supported with total funding of $2.18 million and 25 seed funding proposals are being funded to $500,000.
Deputy Chief Executive Te Aka Tūhono Investment and Outcomes Joe Fowler said many of the proposals supported had common features.
“Proposals being funded often have innovative approaches to systems and support networks, including the development of new models that could support a more sustainable future. Several participants also identified innovative ways of transmitting mātauranga Māori, and others identified ways to support Pacific practitioners and their audiences.
“The strength of the proposals submitted by participants in Te Waipounamu so far has shown us that the sector, while challenged under the COVID-19 response, is ambitious about its future.
“It’s also heartening to see innovative use of technology and extension or adaption in response to COVID-19: there are practitioners and organisations out there who are tackling that head on and creating new ways for audiences to participate, pathways for creatives to continue working and ultimately for the sector to maintain it’s significant contribution to our wellbeing.
“I’m excited to see this work supported and look forward to seeing it shared across the sector and Te Waipounamu audiences.”
The Innovation Fund is part of the broader Arts and Culture COVID Recovery package of $374 million. The aim of the Innovation Fund is to improve sustainability and resilience of the cultural sector, provide commercial opportunities, and improve access and participation through innovation.
Phase one of the Innovation Fund programme was being delivered by a nationwide kanohi ki te kanohi face-to-face event series, Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa. The escalation in alert levels due to COVID-19, has necessitated a move to an online format so the fund can continue to reach across the regions to support the arts and culture sector.
The remaining 2021 Te Urungi events have now been confirmed, with more details on the Manatū Taonga website.
Manawatū-Whanganui 30-31 October (online event)
Napier Te Matau-a-Māui 12-14 November
Waikato 26-28 November
Tauihu-o-te-Waka Marlborough and Whakatū, Nelson 10-12 December
The Kerikeri Te Tai Tokerau event has been rescheduled to early 2022 in the hope it can be delivered kanohi ki te kanohi. Other events to be scheduled for 2022 include Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Tūranganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne communities.
Recipients from the online and Te Whanganui-a-Tara events were published earlier this month, with $5.6 million awarded. 

Housing Market – First home buyers active, possibly nudged by rising rents

Source: CoreLogic, economic analysis by Kelvin Davidson, Chief Property Economist, CoreLogic NZ

Given the lockdown-related decline in property sales volumes over August and September, we need to take care with market share figures. Even so, the downwards trend for mortgaged investors’ activity still remains pretty clear, as does the upturn for first home buyers (FHBs) – possibly given an extra push into buying by the signs that rental growth has accelerated sharply. We’ve been cautious about the ability of landlords to push through larger rent rises to try and recoup some of the extra costs imposed on them by the removal of interest deductibility, but it does now seem to be happening.

Similarly, FHBs have recently been showing an appetite for smaller dwellings. So today’s announcement of planning system reforms, which allow and encourage higher density housing, should also benefit FHBs. It’s hard to say if an extra (roughly) 50,000-100,000 dwellings as a result of the reforms would lower house prices, but it would certainly tend to restrain their growth. The major issue (at least for the next year or two) will be who’ll actually build them. After all, the construction industry is already at capacity.

The Buyer Classification figures for September are now available and they confirm that for Q3 as a whole the downwards trend for mortgaged investors’ (multiple property owner/MPO) market share simply rolled on. At 24.2% for July-September (see the chart below), the figure was back down at the same levels as Q2 2020, which was just before the removal of the loan to value ratio (LVR) rules really sparked investor demand back into life. But with LVRs now back in play and with the phased removal of interest deductibility now on the table too, there is a good chance that mortgaged investors’ market share continues to drop, potentially to an even lower level than the late 2017 trough (22%).

If we dig a little deeper into the mortgaged investor category, it’s clear to see where the pullback has come from – as the second chart shows, the dip in market share is concentrated amongst smaller players, i.e. those who would have been making their first investment purchase (and would hence own two properties) and those who already have 1-2 rentals and would be purchasing another (to own a total of 3-4 properties). We suspect these ‘Mums and Dads’ would tend to have the greatest difficulty in raising a 40% deposit (unless buying a new-build) and/or be the most uncertain about the true effect of the interest deductibility changes, and hence have started to retreat a little.

On the flipside, FHBs’ market share has picked up strongly, reaching 26.4% in Q3, which is a new record high. Clearly, although house prices have risen a lot in the past year or so (from an already high level), many FHBs are still finding ways to enter the market, such as using KiwiSaver or capitalising on the banks’ low deposit lending allowance (which is going to be reduced officially on 1st November, and is probably already being enforced by the banks themselves).

In addition, there still seem to be some pretty strong financial incentives to actually make the move into home ownership, given that paying a mortgage can often still be cheaper than renting, especially since rents themselves have started to rise more quickly too (see the third chart). Supply and demand is tight in the rental market, and landlords may well be trying to ‘get ahead’ of looming mortgage rate rises too.

But we need to acknowledge that the interest deductibility changes do seem to be causing faster rent rises than we expected and otherwise might have been the case (although wages should still be an anchor for rental growth over the long run).

Meanwhile, movers (i.e. existing owner occupiers who are shifting house) are still relatively quiet around the country, with Wellington a notable example – see the fourth chart (which covers Wellington City, Upper & Lower Hutt, Porirua). In some cases, already-large mortgages may be preventing them from actually making the next move, given the large gap in price to ‘trade up’. But for others, it’s likely due to the lack of listings and simply not being able to find the ideal next property.

Ombudsman launches investigation into MIQ booking system

Source: Office of the Ombudsman

The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is launching a broad investigation into the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) booking system after receiving hundreds of complaints.
Mr Boshier says he has identified some common themes in about 200 complaints relating to the booking system.
Many of the complaints come from people who are having difficulties around the world obtaining vouchers for places in managed isolation or have concerns about the booking system overall.
“The complaints fit into four broad categories – they claim the allocation system is unlawful, unfit for purpose, unfair, and poorly managed. I have decided to do my own independent investigation into them all.”
“One of the specific complaints is that disabled people are being disadvantaged. I have concerns about whether the online booking system is accessible and whether suitable alternatives are being offered for those who have difficulty using this digital platform.”
Mr Boshier says he has notified the agency in charge of the booking system, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, of his intention to investigate.
“I want to give the public some assurance that the MIQ booking system is working as well as it should.”
“While I could investigate each of these complaints in turn, I don’t believe this is the most efficient way of addressing any underlying issues. That is why I am looking at them together.”
“When a new complaint comes in, my team will assess whether it should be addressed as part of this investigation or investigated and resolved individually.”
Mr Boshier will continue monitoring the wider MIQ system to identify any other interventions that may be needed.
He acknowledges the MIQ system was set up quickly in response to an immediate crisis.
“Border restrictions, along with managed isolation and quarantine facilities, are going to be a fact of life for some time to come.”
“I want to find out how MBIE is responding to these concerns and whether it has a robust plan in place for allocating places in the coming months and years. If there is not, I will recommend it makes improvements.”
Mr Boshier says since this will be a broad investigation, it will not directly result in anyone being granted a voucher right now or given priority in the queue.
“My message to anyone wanting a space is to continue to use the existing channels. If you believe that you meet the criteria for an emergency allocation, you should apply for it in the usual way. Otherwise, you should continue to seek a place through the virtual lobby.”
Mr Boshier says his aim is to report to Parliament on his substantive findings early next year.
“However, my investigation will need to be responsive. I may make statements on my findings at different stages rather than waiting to publish them at the very end.”
Mr Boshier is aware of current court proceedings about the Government’s operation of the MIQ system and will be taking this into account.
Additional Information on the Chief Ombudsman’s role
-The Chief Ombudsman’s role is to investigate and report on the actions, decisions and/or omissions of public sector agencies such as MBIE.
-By conducting investigations into the administrative conduct of public sector agencies, such as MBIE, the Ombudsman promotes accountability and transparency. This in turn enables Parliament and the public of Aotearoa New Zealand to have high levels of trust and confidence in MBIE.
-The Chief Ombudsman is not required to follow any particular process for investigating a matter. He may seek information from, or speak to anyone. He is required to abide by the principles of natural justice before forming a final opinion. His investigation must be conducted in private and he must maintain secrecy.
-The Chief Ombudsman does not however have the authority to examine any Court decisions, actions of the lawyers employed by or instructed to act for MBIE, nor decisions made by Ministers of the Crown.
For a copy of the Chief Ombudsman's investigation framework and more information, see: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/what-ombudsman-can-help/miq-complaints 

ExportNZ welcomes National policy on opening the border

Source: BusinessNZ

Executive Director of ExportNZ Catherine Beard has welcomed National’s policy on reopening the border, saying exporters and business travellers would be very supportive of a better approach to managing the movement of people into New Zealand.
“ExportNZ has been calling for a risk-based approach, with double-vaccinated business travellers able to do rapid Covid testing and either home isolation for a short period, or no isolation as the population becomes highly vaccinated in New Zealand.
“While exporters have coped with not being able to travel when the rest of the world was not travelling, that time is coming to an end, and the rest of the world is getting back to face-to-face meetings. It is no longer workable to not be where your customers are. Exporters tell us this is the number two barrier to trade, after shipping and logistics problems.
“Businesses need to be able to plan their trips in advance and know they can get back to New Zealand with little or no down time, and National’s policy recognises this.
“As well as getting exporters back on the road internationally, we also need to get international businesspeople and skilled technical people into New Zealand. For example, there are big investments in new plant and equipment that are being held up because technicians can’t get into New Zealand to install new imported machinery,” Catherine Beard said.

Retail Sector – MERCHANTS WELCOME ‘DOSH’ FOR CONTACTLESS PAYMENTS

Source: SB Communications

Retailers adopt new payment app to provide contactless option and lower fees

Businesses doing it tough during Covid-19 have welcomed the launch of Dosh – a new way to be paid via a phone app.

Launched last week, Dosh has been quickly adopted by retailers eager to provide an instant, contactless payment option – and avoid costly merchant fees.
“With Dosh it’s simple – I save money and it is easy to set up. It also helps with keeping my staff and customers safe via contactless payments, especially with restricted trading in Covid times,” says Phillip Ashworth, owner of Liquorland outlet in Auckland.
Dosh for Business is easy, safe, and available to anyone with a New Zealand-registered business. In just one week merchants across industries as diverse as florists, liquor stores, cafes and fitness centres have registered with Dosh.

“Dosh is the breakthrough in banking that consumers and small business owners have been waiting for,” says Shane Marsh, co-founder of Dosh. Despite huge popularity overseas, digital wallets and instant payment apps have not been available to New Zealanders.
Dosh allows users to instantly pay or be paid for transactions under $500. 
Currently users can upload up to $1000 onto their dosh wallet and pay businesses via a QR code or via the app. These maximum values will be increased as demand required it. The payment option is perfect for retailers, mobile tradespeople, food delivery and events business.
For any business that needs instant, small payments in a person-to-person environment – Dosh is perfect combination of instant, contactless and safe.
Dosh works with all the major banks including BNZ, ASB, Westpac, ANZ, TSB and Kiwibank, and is a registered Financial Services provider, overseen by the Department of Internal Affairs.
“Dosh removes a whole world of pain from banking,” says co-founder James McEniery.
“Payments are instant – so no more waiting a day or two to see if your funds have cleared. It’s easy – no need to try and remember your 16 digit bank account number or mobile numbers. And it’s safe – you see the money in your account instantly and can transfer it back to your NZ bank account whenever you like.”

It’s also cheaper for businesses. “Merchant fees are a major source of frustration for business owners. Dosh significantly reduces the cost of merchant payments and provides secure, instant results for hardworking Kiwi businesses,” he says.

Dosh is the creation of friends Shane Marsh and James McEniery, returning ex-pat Kiwis who had grown used to using overseas payment apps like Venmo or Paylah. Returning to New Zealand in 2020 they saw that no such payment apps existed so took the opportunity to launch Dosh. James has a background in sales & marketing and Shane was a digital payments expert for a large Australian-owned bank.
You can register for a Dosh Business account online at www.dosh.nz. Consumers can also download the app from Google Play or App store.