A reader asked if Australia had also experienced the same levels of growth in exports to China, and hence is it just that China is growing and importing now, or did the FTA make a difference.
It’s a good question, especially as Russel Norman often claims that the growth in exports to China has nothing to do with the FTA, and hence their opposition to it wouldn’t really have cost us tens of billions of dollars if their view had prevailed.
So I’ve looked at the value of exports to China for both Australia and NZ from 2008 to the year ending June 2013 (the last year Australia has reported on).
Australia exported A$37.1b in 2008 and $78.4b in 2012/13. That’s an increase of 111% or an average of 24.7% a year approx. Pretty good and there is no doubt China’s growth is leading to more exports generally.
But look at NZ in the same period, from when the FTA was signed and came into effect. In 2008 exports were NZ$2.5 billion and in 2012/13 were $7.7b. That’s growth of 205% or 45.4% a year – almost double Australia’s.
So if NZ export growth to China had followed Australia’s export growth for the last five years, what would be the difference? Around $6.6 billion.
Now it is overly simplistic to say the difference is solely the FTA. We have different export profiles. But I think there can be little doubt that the cost of Green and NZ First policies to our exporters would have been well into the billions of dollars.
The sad thing is not that they were wrong, but that they don’t admit they were wrong. Those who once opposed Nelson Mandela being released and opposed decriminalizing consensual same sex relations, generally admit today they were wrong, and on the wrong side of history. But the Greens and NZ First refuse to accept that their opposition to the China Free Trade Agreement was wrong, despite the billions of dollars in extra exports NZ has gained since we signed it.
The sad reality is that the Greens just do not like trade full stop, and NZ First just doesn’t like Asians full stop. That is their motivation to their opposition to the free trade agreement, rather than any rational analysis of what is good for NZ.