NZ govt condemns “Russia” in four statements but doesn’t mention Putin (the warmonger who ordered troops into Ukraine)

Win some (hopefully); lose some (but not too much).

We refer to New Zealand’s international trade and trade relationships.

While Trade Minister Damien O’Connor is packing his bags to build trade opportunities in Europe and the Middle East, the PM and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have been announcing  “targeted” travel bans against Russian Government officials and other individuals associated with the invasion of Ukraine and prohibiting the export of goods to Russian military and security forces.

For good measure, Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods has assured us that New Zealand won’t be affected by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and any resulting curtailment of Russian oil supply.

One good reason (as Woods explained) is that:

“New Zealand does not purchase any oil or oil products from Russia so would not be directly affected if Russian oil supply is curtailed.”  

Similarly, regarding the export ban, Ardern acknowledged

“exports from New Zealand under this category are limited … “

It should be noted (by the way) that the PM has not named the warmongering villain of the piece – Vladimir Putin – just as she and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta have not named him in three other press statements this week while they expressed this country’s dismay at  the invasion of Ukraine. 

Our government is peculiarly condemning Russia but not its autocratic, bullying and maybe mad president.

This is akin to denouncing the Nazis and the Third Reich for warmongering, genocide and horrendous atrocities without mentioning Adolf Hitler.

Ardern said:

“New Zealand calls on Russia to do what is right and immediately cease military operations in Ukraine and permanently withdraw to avoid a catastrophic and pointless loss of innocent life. The invasion poses a significant threat to peace and security in the region and will trigger a humanitarian and refugee crisis, with reports already of large numbers of people in Kiev making their way towards the Western border.”

Just one man in Russia can do what she asks but – for reasons that puzzle us, here at Point of Order – he is being ignored.

Ardern said “Russia” has demonstrated a disregard for diplomacy and efforts to avoid conflict, and must now face the consequences of their decision to invade.

“As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia has displayed a flagrant disregard for international law and abdicated their responsibility to uphold global peace and security. They now must face the consequences of those decisions.”

New Zealand has immediately implemented these measures in response to Russia’s actions:

  • The introduction of targeted travel bans against Russian Government officials and other individuals associated with the invasion of Ukraine—this is in line with a number of our partners. These measures will ban targeted individuals from obtaining visas to enter or transit New Zealand. The government will update and revise the list of those subject to restrictions based on future developments.
  • The prohibition of exports of goods to Russian military and security forces. This covers the export of all goods intended for use by the Russian military and security forces, including any armed force, paramilitary force, police force, or militia. This includes weapons and dual-use technology that have a civilian use but are intended for military use, or that may have military applications.
  • The suspension of bilateral foreign Ministry consultations until further notice.

The government continues to engage with international partners over additional measures, but Ardern said it is clear a significant cost will be imposed on Russia for their actions.

Officials will also provide the Government advice on humanitarian response options, and how New Zealand could potentially contribute in this area also.

On the military trade constraints, Ardern said:

“While exports from New Zealand under this category are limited, a blanket ban is a significant step as it removes the ability for exporters to apply for a permit, and sends a clear signal of support to Ukraine.”   

In her statement, Megan Woods said the International Energy Agency (IEA) has assessed that world oil production capacity is more than sufficient to meet demand due to any disruption that may arise from the situation in the Ukraine.

New Zealand is a member of the IEA and holds strategic reserves offshore to manage potential disruptions in the oil market that could have an impact on the price of oil.

Damien O’Connor will depart for Europe and the Middle East tomorrow for meetings in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“New Zealand’s goods and services are in demand around the world and our COVID-19 economic recovery will be underpinned by improving our substantial export market access,” he said.

In the UK he will meet with Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan, to progress the bilateral trade relationship, including to complete the final steps of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.

In Europe, he will travel to Belgium and Switzerland for talks towards the conclusion of negotiations on the European Union-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (EU-NZ FTA) and to promote New Zealand’s interests at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Following O’Connor’s visit to Belgium in October 2021, subsequent meetings had been scheduled in Brussels with Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner, and Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture. He will also meet with Members of the European Parliament.

“A high quality and comprehensive FTA with the European Union, our fourth largest trading partner, will open up even more opportunities for our goods and services exporters in a market of close to 450 million consumers,” Damien O’Connor said.

“In particular it would benefit our primary sector, the backbone of our economy, as well as those engaged in transport and professional services.”

Following his trip to Europe, O’Connor will travel to Saudi Arabia, one of our fastest growing export markets, to meet with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, based in Riyadh. He will also lead New Zealand’s delegation at the 8th Saudi-NZ Joint Ministerial Commission and meet with his Saudi Ministerial counterparts.

The Minister will then travel to the United Arab Emirates to lead the New Zealand delegation at the 8th UAE-NZ Joint Economic Committee, meet with his Emirati Ministerial counterparts and support New Zealand’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“New Zealand’s participation at Expo is a significant initiative to promote our trade, economic, business and G2G connections with the UAE and Gulf region. Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, the New Zealand pavilion at the Expo has attracted over 800,000 visitors.

“The Gulf represents New Zealand’s seventh-largest export market. Building on our strong economic and trading relationship with the region is important to New Zealand’s economic recovery and our trade diversification goals” Damien O’Connor said.

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