NZ slaps more sanctions on Russia while welcoming Brits into the CPTPP (but the trade deal sours some UK commentators)

 Buzz from the Beehive

We haven’t exhaustively put this proposition to the test, but we suspect there’s just one thing Nanaia Mahuta has mentioned more often than “sanctions” in her press statements.  That would be “three waters”.

Mahuta has popped up in the latest batch of Beehive press statements to announce a further tightening of the thumb screws she is applying to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The targets of her latest action include Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Alekseevna Lvova-Belova, who is being punished for her involvement in the abduction and forced relocation of thousands of Ukrainian Children.

But (we wonder) how many more Russian bigwigs must be sanctioned before Putin starts to wince?

Another announcement involving this country’s overseas relationships came from the office of Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor.

We suspect “agreement” and/or “FTA” has been mentioned in his press  statements even more times than Mahuta could get “three waters” into hers before she was replaced as Minister of Local Government.

This time O’Connor is sounding triumphal after the United Kingdom signed up to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The latest news on the Beehive website is –

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In her statement, Nanaia Mahuta said that as well as the Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner, the Government is sanctioning 26 individuals – five from Belarus and the rest from Russia – to show our continued condemnation of Russia’s actions, and our support for Ukraine.

It is also sanctioning a further five Russian entities with strategic relevance to Russia.

“Sanctions against Russian entities which produce carbon fibre will have an impact on Russia’s war machine and its ability to produce weapons, while our sanctions against paramilitary organisations and their mercenaries target those who use them against innocent Ukrainians.

“The sanctions involve travel bans; prohibitions on dealing with assets or services, shares or securities; and prohibitions on vessels or aircraft entering this country. The measures also prevent New Zealanders and New Zealand companies from providing goods and services to the entities targeted by these sanctions,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

More information about sanctions, travel bans, and export controls against Russia and Belarus, as well as diplomatic, military and economic support to Ukraine, can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website here.

According to our count, Nanaia Mahuta has issued or contributed to 32 Beehive press statements  in the past year and a bit in which sanctions against Russia are mentioned.

In his statement about the United Kingdom’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Damien O’Connor reiterated that continuing to grow our export returns is a priority for the Government and part of its plan to provide greater economic security to all New Zealanders.

One in four New Zealanders’ jobs depend on our exports. The CPTPP is an important element of our trade agenda, and brings greater diversification to our export flow. 

“We know that when businesses start exporting, employment can grow up to 12 per cent faster, so we’re focussed on helping businesses keep growing their exports by opening doors to new markets, resulting in more jobs and higher incomes for Kiwi families.

“Stronger trade ties also lower the costs on businesses. Through the CPTPP, we’ve already saved Kiwi businesses $300 million in tariffs in just the first two years.”

Having a major economy like the UK inside CPTPP brings the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific in a way that will strengthen the rules-based trading system in our region and benefit our exporters, provide greater certainty, and enhance regional supply chains for trade, O’Connor said.

“As a G7 member and the world’s sixth largest economy, the UK’s CPTPP accession emphasises the appeal of the Agreement and its importance as a key piece of regional trade infrastructure.”

The UK’s accession to the bloc will complement “the gold-standard outcomes of the NZ-UK FTA”, which will mean that 99.5 per cent of New Zealand’s current goods exports to the UK will be duty free from entry into force. At full implementation, exports are expected to grow by over 50%, and GDP by up to $1 billion.

O’Connor noted that his government has notched up four new free trade agreements (FTAs) and three FTA upgrades.

A copy of the Joint Ministerial Statement on the UK’s accession process to the CPTPP is available here

The ballyhooing was much greater on the British Government website, which brayed:

UK strikes biggest trade deal since Brexit to join major free trade bloc in Indo-Pacific

The UK will join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a vast free trade area of 11 countries spanning the Indo-Pacific, the Prime Minister has announced today [Friday 31March].

This statement said:

The historic agreement follows two years of intense negotiations by the Department for Business and Trade and puts the UK at the heart of a dynamic group of economies, as the first European member and first new member since CPTPP was created. We would not have been able to join as a member of the EU, demonstrating how the UK is seizing the opportunities of our new post-Brexit trade freedoms to drive jobs and growth across the country.

The bloc is home to more 500 million people and will be worth 15% of global GDP once the UK joins. It is estimated that joining will boost the UK economy by £1.8 billion in the long run, with wages also forecast to rise by £800 million compared to 2019 levels.


 According to UK Government modelling, long term this could increase UK GDP by £1.8 billion.

A CNN report puts that into perspective:

Although the government called the agreement its “biggest trade deal since Brexit,” its own estimates show that joining the CPTPP will increase UK economic output by less than 0.1% in the long run, or over approximately 15 years.

After UK Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch told LBC about the advantages of joining the IndoPacific bloc, broadcaster James O’Brien was scathing.

“She couldn’t stop herself saying things like there’s strengths in numbers.

“I don’t know if she’s seen a map.”


“… if you’re allying yourself with someone, which do you think is more helpful to have an alliance with – your next door neighbour, or an alliance with someone in Mongolia or Peru?”

He mocked:

“Actually in this case I don’t even need to use Mongolia as a figure of speech because we are now joining a trading block that includes Peru.”


“If like me you think it was stupid to become the first country in the history of humanity to impose economic sanctions on itself – if you think that was a stupid thing to do – then you dream of nothing more than damage limitation.”

O’Brien noted the UK Government’s claim that, after 21 months of negotiations, this was the UK’s biggest trade deal since Brexit, making it the first European country to join CPTPP.

This, he argued, was not a point of pride. Among other things, the UK already has free trade agreements with all but two CPTPP countries.

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