Less milk, more kitteh

This blog post is about the TPP, the possible benefits from it, and how we as a country can make WAY more money through using the Internet better(er).

Firstly - if you want to read about how bad or evil the TPP is move along. This honestly isn’t about throwing stones at the TPP. Instead, it’s about showing that while it’s worth decent money to our economy - there are other, even bigger, amounts up for grabs in our economy.
So with that out of the way…

The TPP has been agreed, countries will soon sign on and then work to ratify the agreement. As my colleague Dean would say ‘Cool Story Bro, needs more dragons’. (okay, I say that last bit)

How much will we, as a country, make from the TPP?  The full benefit of TPP is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year extra in New Zealand’s GDP by 2030.  $2.7b, that’s a sizeable amount of cash right?  

Well yes, except we won’t actually be earning all of that for quite a few years to come. Also, as a country and as a State, our organisations have invested a whole lot of time over the last eight years negotiating the TPP, that’s a lot of effort over a lot of years.

I’m not knocking that, I just can’t help but feel if we spend all that time and money on free trade agreements, surely, if $34b were up for grabs we’d be focussed on right? 

Yes, you read that right. NZ$34 billion. 

What is worth $34b to our economy? New Zealand’s businesses using the international cat gif database, aka the Internet (hat tip to John Oliver).

Last year, the Innovation Partnership (of which we are a member and funder) commissioned a report from Sapere entitled The Value of Internet Services to New Zealand Businesses.

The report essentially highlights that, as a country, we’re good at using the Internet for entertainment and socialising. But we’re not all that great at leveraging the Internet and digital technologies to improve our businesses.  And, here’s the point that drives at $34b value - businesses that are high-users are 73 percent more productive than businesses that make little use of the Internet. Yes that’s an estimate, but so is the $2.7b from the TPP, and even if the estimate is out by say 25%, that’s still gives us $25.5b. I declare that to be Serious Cheddar.

Now, as you’d guess by our organisation name - we’re big believers in the power of the Internet. We believe in a better world through a better Internet. And I passionately believe that our businesses, organisations and citizens can use the Internet better to make our country wealthier, broaden and grow our economy, improve our education as well as help us make our society fairer and better for all of us.

So, when I see $34b up for grabs I can’t help but wonder why we don’t focus more on this stuff?  In the last 6 months here at InternetNZ I’ve seen a few attempts at getting some stuff off the ground to help get New Zealand businesses using the Internet, but nothing seems to have ‘landed’ yet.

I accept that building a digital economy and pursuing free trade deals are not mutually exclusive activities or dollar values. I’m sure that the benefits of the TPP will include and be leveraged by businesses using the Internet for export and trade.

But I still can’t help but think that we’re all missing an opportunity to make the MOST of the Internet. My suspicion is that ‘Internet use’ things are somewhere around 7th or 9th on the priority list for a bunch of organisations and government agencies. Lots of people recognise it’s important, it’s just not been as important as access issues, telecommunications pricing or legislation, UFB rollout, etc. Fair call, I’m not here to throw stones. 

Instead, when there’s $34b on the metaphorical table for the taking, shouldn’t we turn our collective minds to how we can get businesses using the Internet to their benefits, assisting New Zealanders to become computer literate and have access to Internet connected devices? 

Ping me to tell me how wrong and/or right I am.

 Would you like to know more?

Disclosure statement: One of the authors of the Sapere report referenced in this blog is Hayden Glass. Hayden is also an elected councillor of InternetNZ.

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