The summer holidays are over – but where in the world will we find the Minister?

The summer holidays are over, the flow of press statements from the Beehive is increasing and – we may assume – our Ministers will be busy at their desks or with engagements here and there around the country.  Or maybe they are or will be engaged in very important business overseas.

The Point of Order monitor of Beehive press statements has been idle since Christmas but burst back into life yesterday to register four sets of travel plans.

These included confirmation of the European travel plans of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to promote trade “and wellbeing” (good luck with that) which we portended late in January.

This mission includes a meeting with Britain’s Theresa May.  Events in recent days suggest there must have been huge doubt over whether this meeting would be with May or someone else.

With more certainty, the PM looks forward to again meeting Prince William.

Here’s what the monitor showed ….

17 JANUARY 2019

PM to promote trade and wellbeing at World Economic Forum

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be promoting free trade agreements with the UK and EU and the Government’s wellbeing agenda to global leaders when she heads to London, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and Brussels next week.

The primary purpose of the visit is to progress a free trade agreement with Europe and to promote New Zealand business interests.

The trip also provides the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom, where Jacinda Ardern is scheduled to meet with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and reconfirm the understanding that New Zealand will be left no worse off, including in respect of its trade interests, following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“My visit to the UK is an opportunity to underline New Zealand’s position as a natural and long standing partner for the country as it redefines its global role post-Brexit,” Jacinda Ardern said.

In Brussels Ardern will have meetings with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“I will be using my engagements to enhance New Zealand’s profile as a likeminded partner to the EU across a wide range of issues, including climate change, social policy, trade and our commitment to the rules-based system,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“There is still much progress to make in trade talks with our European partners, so a key focus of this whole trip is to speak to European Commission and individual country leaders to shore up support for our ongoing negotiations and ensure New Zealand exporters achieve a great deal.”

At the World Economic Forum in Davos the PM will be promoting the Government’s approach to inclusive growth through the Wellbeing Agenda and the delivery of the world’s first wellbeing budget in May this year.

She will be participating in a range of panel discussions at Davos including one focused on wellbeing and options beyond GDP with the head of the OECD, the future of the international trading system with the head of the WTO and a panel focused on mental health with His Royal Highness Prince William.

“Our wellbeing approach is generating significant international interest, particularly at a time when the international rules based order is under strain and leaders are grappling with constituencies dissatisfied with the status quo.

“I hope other leaders will come to see more compassionate domestic policy settings as a compelling alternative to the false promise of protectionism and isolation.

“I will be using the opportunity in Davos to hold a number of bilateral meetings with leaders to promote trade and other matters. I am also looking forward to meeting again with Prince William,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The PM will be in London on 20-21 January, Davos from 22-23 January, and Brussels on 24-25 January.  She will be joined, in Davos, by Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

17 JANUARY 2019

Finance Minister travels to Davos World Economic Forum, Brussels and London

Finance Minister Grant Robertson will accompany the Prime Minister to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF).

He will also visit Belgium and the United Kingdom for economic and business engagements.

“This is a very timely trip given the dynamic global economic situation,” Grant Robertson said.

“While the New Zealand economy continues its stable growth, as international risks mount we must continue to engage with global partners so we are in the best position to address any issues. This visit is an opportunity to build on our relationships in Europe, including in advancing our negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.”

Robertson’s attendance at the WEF is to work with Ardern in showcasing New Zealand’s approach to wellbeing to an international audience, and raise New Zealand’s profile as a partner across issues including climate change, social policy, trade and commitment to the international rules-based system.

He will attend a range of engagements and will deliver the opening remarks at the Forum’s main Asia-Pacific event, a discussion on ‘Bridging the Demographic Divide’.

He has bilateral meetings confirmed with Ministerial counterparts from Singapore, Denmark, France, Canada, Ireland and Chile, and he will represent New Zealand at an informal World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Davos.

In Brussels, he will meet with EU Commissioners responsible for the euro, social dialogue and the EU Budget process, as well as Members of the European Parliament.

In London, he will deliver a speech at the London School of Economics on the Wellbeing Budget.

“As a small trading nation, it is vital that New Zealand maintains close links and open discussions with trading, business and political partners,” Grant Robertson said.

“I will be working to advance opportunities for New Zealand and share information and our policy approach with international colleagues.”

17 JANUARY 2019

Andrew Little to lead delegation to UN Human Rights Review

Justice Minister, Andrew Little, will lead a delegation to New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 21 January.

The Universal Periodic Review considers of New Zealand’s human rights records over the last five years.  New Zealand was last reviewed in 2014.

Established in 2006 by the United Nations, the Universal Periodic Review is a state monitoring mechanism to periodically review the protection and promotion of human rights in each of the 193 United Nations members state. The United Nations Human Rights Council will also receive submissions from non-governmental organisations.

17 JANUARY 2019

Parker to attend first CPTPP Commission meeting in Tokyo

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker heads to Tokyo later this week for the first Commission meeting of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement, which came into force on 30 December 2018.

“This is a significant milestone.  The CPTPP – a major trade agreement among 11 Asia/Pacific economies – is already delivering improved access for our exporters, including into Japan, Canada and Mexico where we have not previously had an FTA,” David Parker said.

“CPTPP is also important in the current uncertain global trading environment. It provides a level of insurance for New Zealand against strains in the multilateral rules-based trading system.

“New Zealand has valued Japan’s leadership in helping to bring this agreement into force. Our joint efforts to implement the agreement serve as an example of how New Zealand and Japan can work together as strategic partners in our region.”

“The meeting in Tokyo is an early opportunity to bring into effect the CPTPP’s institutional arrangements and ensure the smooth operation of the agreement.”

So far the agreement has been ratified by seven countries – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

“The remaining four signatories are working to complete their domestic procedures and I expect more will soon notify New Zealand as Depositary that they are ready to join the agreement.

“Alongside the CPTPP meeting, I will hold talks in Tokyo with my Ministerial counterparts to discuss working together to progress inclusive trade outcomes and address wider global trade issues.”

David Parker will also meet New Zealand business representatives and the Japan-New Zealand Parliamentary Friendship League.

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