On 20 July NZIIA Life Member Stephen Hoadley's book New Zealand Trade Negotiations was launched at Victoria University of Wellington, with about 150 present. Both Charles Finny (Saunders Unsworth) and Stephen Jacobi (executive director of the New Zealand International Business Forum) addressed the gathering, the former representing Minister of Trade Todd McClay, who was unable to attend because of travel complications but who sent his regrets. So, too, did Dr Anthony Smith, the chair of the NZIIA's Research Committee
While surprised to be making these comments, I am pleased to be doing so because I had booked to attend this event and was keen to purchase a copy of Stephen's book. This is a book that needed to be written and the timing of its publication is excellent.
I have not read the book yet. But 1 have read some comments in the media by Steve about his book. So I know it is a good news story. It should be, as New Zealand has achieved much in the trade-negotiating arena since we faced the crisis of the United Kingdom entering the European Economic Community in the early 1970s.
We now have much better disciplines in the GATT/WTO and over 50 per cent of our goods exports are now liberalised and protected by free trade agreements. Given our size and the sensitivity of what we are best at producing, this is an incredible achievement. It has not been easy but the government has developed a team of world-class negotiators and we have had excellent political leadership from a succession of trade ministers, including Hon Jim Sutton, who is with us tonight.
Most recently this expertise was recognised by the British government in the appointment of former New Zealand trade negotiator Crawford Falconer as the United Kingdom's chief trade negotiator. Indeed, I was in London a couple of weeks ago talking to officials, diplomats and the private sector about Brexit and the post-Brexit trade policy challenges facing the United Kingdom. I was shocked at the low level of expertise in the United Kingdom in this space. They certainly need Crawford Falconer's expertise but they could probably do with the assistance of the full MFAT trade negotiating team.
We have achieved much in the trade policy space, but there is much more work to be done. And the challenges are probably greater than they have been in recent years. If he had been here, Todd McClay would almost certainly have referred to the government's new trade strategy that was launched a few months ago. This sets a new target of having 90 per cent of our goods exports covered by free trade agreements by 2030. This is going to be a challenge. For example, it cannot be achieved without a free trade agreement with the United States.
I wish to commend the great work being done by McClay and the current negotiating team he leads. Aside from the new trade strategy, three developments deserve attention. The first is the recent announcement that New Zealand will be negotiating a...