While we can take some pride that New Zealand is:

  • rated as the least corrupt country in the World, alongside Denmark, and
  • a Model Law country with an impeccable Arbitration Act and supportive judiciary and legislature,

we are perceived as being a long way from the rest of the World.

It it is fair to say that there is a general lack of awareness of the opportunities which international arbitration provides.  That is something which needs to change, as once the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement comes into effect, its participants will represent 40% of Global GDP and one third of World Trade.  New Zealand’s recent adoption of the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) establishes a level playing field for New Zealand companies to compete on the same terms as local firms for government procurement contracts in seven Pacific Rim countries (including USA) and the European Union; more critically, the GPA includes the WTO’s Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, which will ultimately open the way for arbitration.  It also has to be recognised that the People’s Republic of China is very keen to establish its own international relations with its trading partners, without the necessity for the approval of the US Congress – Australia and New Zealand were early to recognise PRC’s right to take its place at the United Nations, in December 1972 (eight years before the USA), which is not overlooked by the PRC.

International commercial arbitration is a growing with trade in the Pacific Rim, and it is time for New Zealand to step up to the mark in relation to international dispute resolution.  We have a great reputation for independence and fairness – but, we have been notable by our absence in this sphere to date.