With debate on legislation to enable the Trans-Pacific partnership due to kick off in parliament this week, the majority of businesses in New Zealand support the 12-nation trade deal.
That’s according to findings from accounting software developer MYOB, which claims that in an additional boost to the backers of free trade, 45 percent of business operators favour New Zealand pursuing more free trade agreements (FTAs) with international trading partners.
The latest MYOB Business Monitor research of more than 1,000 SMEs across New Zealand, claims that more than one third of local businesses (36 percent) favoured staying in the TPP.
Meanwhile, a quarter of business owners believe New Zealand should pull out of the deal, while 39 percent said it would not affect their vote.
MYOB New Zealand General Manager James Scollay says local SMEs see that the benefits of international trade opportunities outweigh the opposition that has surrounded the TPP.
“Overall, we see strong support in the survey for the Government continuing to pursue free trade agreements internationally,” he says.
“At the same time, while the progress of the TPP agreement has been sometimes mired in controversy, there’s little support amongst the small business community for New Zealand to pull out of the deal.”
Scollay says the sectors where the trade deal has the strongest support are manufacturing and wholesale (49 percent), finance and insurance (48 percent), and business and professional services (43 percent).
On the flip side, opposition to the TPP is highest amongst the logistics sector (32 percent) and the trades industries (31 percent).
In addition, 20 percent of exporters would like to see New Zealand out of the TPP, while 39 percent support it.
Importing businesses are similarly supportive, with 23 percent wanting New Zealand removed from the agreement and 46 percent in favour of confirming the deal.
“Support and opposition to the TPP is most balanced in businesses operating outside of the main centres, with 24 percent of respondents in the provinces saying New Zealand should not complete the deal, while 32 percent want to see it ratified,” Scollay explains.
In Auckland, 27 percent of businesses want out of the TPP, and 38 percent think New Zealand should stay in, while in Wellington opposition to the deal is at 28 percent, while 40 percent favour it.
In Christchurch, just 17 percent would like to see New Zealand removed from the TPP, while 41 percent would oppose any moves to scupper the trade deal.
Specific to sectors, Scollay says there is “broad support” for additional trade agreements across most industries - strongest support comes from the primary sector (60 percent), manufacturers (55 percent) and the finance and insurance industry (55 percent).
“New Zealand is a trading nation, and whether it’s for our agricultural produce or home-grown technology, we depend on forming trade agreements to provide access to key markets,” he adds.
“Businesses of all kinds across the country, even if they are not directly involved in exporting, see that the success of our economy is largely underpinned by how effective we are at trading with the world - and that depends on the opportunities free trade agreements provide."