Goff warns US on TPP expectations, cuddles China
"As a small country, we will do best by playing China and the US off each other, while avoiding attachments to either."Featured comment
BUSINESSDESK: A Labour-led government would not allow the United States to dictate terms on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreements or allow it to use any pact as a pretext for containing "China's economic advance".
In a significant speech to the Asia Forum in Wellington, Mr Goff claims New Zealand Labour government heritage for the TPP initiative, which has recently attracted participation from the US, Canada and Mexico trade bloc, otherwise known as Nafta, along with Japan.
The former leader of New Zealand's main opposition political party warned against choosing between relationships with China and the US, preferring "good relations with both superpowers".
"New Zealand for the first time in its history finds itself in a situation where its strategic security relationships based on commonality of political values and history do not match its strategic economic interests," Mr Goff said. The same was true other countries in the region.
"The goal of Asia-Pacific nations should be to ensure the two superpowers co-operate rather than end up in conflict."
The US should be welcomed into the TPP, which a Labour-led government initiated, but not allow US attempts to "contain" China, and "not on all of the terms that the US would like to impose in negotiations."
"The opportunity to co-operate more closely with the US, including in military training … is unlikely to, and should not, seek reinstatement of a military alliance that would tie its hands."
"New Zealand should not, and I believe does not, see the TPP as an agreement exclusive of other countries or as a means to contain China’s economic advance.
"Rather, Labour initiated it and sees it as a means" of achieving an Asia-Pacific FTA, as envisaged when Labour prime minister Mike Moore initiated the process known as Apec.
"Our ideal would be a totally inclusive high quality multilateral trade agreement through the World Trade Organisation," Mr Goff said.
"Many view China from the background of a history of competition and conflict with that country. They also have a strong desire born from colonial times not to be dominated or instructed on what to do by the US or any other power.
"They want the US to be active in the region to achieve an equilibrium of power. They welcome the Obama regime’s pivot towards Asia but they don’t want the United States to crusade or seek confrontation with China," he said.
A fundamental difference with China was "real concerns in the area of human rights".
"It goes without saying that we do not have the power to tell China what to do," Mr Goff said. "China resents the tone of the US’s approach to its treatment of human rights more than the message.
"We need to continue to make our case quietly but insistently and offer our co-operation in changes that must come from within China itself."