New Zealand optimistic of free-trade deal with US

Todd McClay
Updated 18 June 2017
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New Zealand optimistic of free-trade deal with US

SYDNEY: The US has indicated it is open to a free- trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand, New Zealand’s trade minister said on Sunday.
Todd McClay visited Washington for high-level trade talks with the administration of US President Donald Trump this week, meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, newly appointed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other advisers to the president.
“I have welcomed their interest in an FTA as a demonstration of the good shape our trading relationship is in,” McClay said in a statement.
McClay said his center-right government wants free-trade agreements to cover 90 percent of goods exported by 2030, up from just over half currently, and the US will be an important part of achieving that.
Two-way trade between the two countries reached $16 billion in 2016, making the US New Zealand’s third-largest individual trading partner, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
New Zealand’s $180 billion economy depends on exports and the country lobbied hard in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
Alongside Japan and Australia, New Zealand is trying to negotiate a deal with the 11 remaining countries of the TPP after the US withdrew.
Trump dumped membership of the TPP as one of his first acts in an “America First” policy aiming at bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US.
He said he would seek one-on-one trade deals with countries that would allow the US to quickly terminate them in 30 days “if somebody misbehaves.”
McClay said he had a constructive meeting with Lighthizer and said Ross indicated he saw no major impediments to a trade deal with his country.


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 53 min 25 sec ago
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‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.