He has been virtually incognito since 2017 – but Britain’s chief trade negotiator, Crawford Falconer, has finally surfaced amidst the debris of the Brexit wars in London.
London’s Daily Telegraph quotes him as saying Brexit had actually been good for the UK because it had given it something to say on trade.
Falconer has been working on international trade issues for more than 30 years.
He was the New Zealand Government’s leading trade official and served as Ambassador to the WTO.
He also worked for several years at the OECD and the Institute of Policy Studies.
He has been an independent chair of several international trade negotiating bodies and an independent judge on large number of international trade disputes
Many in MFAT thought he was sharper intellectually and had more substance than Tim Groser, who entered politics to become trade minister in John Key’s government.
He lacked Groser’s flamboyance and departed for academia (he was the Sir Graeme Harrison Professor of Global Value Chains and Trade at Lincoln University) before the British government head-hunted him.
He has headed up the UK Government’s global trade negotiations.
He told the Daily Telegraph that when he took on the job in Britain in 2017, the UK had “very little to say” on trade.
But two years on, and with a fresh Prime Minister on the horizon, he says things are “changing rapidly” and will continue to do so.
“I always found it anomalous from the outside that the world’s fifth largest economy, as the UK has always been, really had very little to say, very little influence on the international trade system.”
The newspaper reported the New Zealander, who has 25 years of trade policy experience, as saying he knew “that that was the de-facto case but that will change and has changed already”.
“To me that change was self-evident and to everyone else I worked with from around the world. And that is changing rapidly now and will change ever more rapidly.”
A Telegraph columnist writes:
“ … with the leadership contest nearing its end and Mr Johnson looking most likely to win, maybe we all need to adopt Mr Falconer’s attitude that the UK has found its voice negotiating Brexit’s muddy waters.”