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. Continue reading “Crawford Falconer breaks his silence to say Brexit has given the UK something to say about trade”
Many New Zealanders may be unaware that China, home to half the world’s pigs, is suffering a catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever. According to one authoritative estimate, the disease may have wiped out one-third of the population of 500m pigs.
The London “Economist” says that for as long as it takes China’s pig industry to recover —which may be years—farmers elsewhere may have cause to celebrate. Yet foreign producers cannot make up the vast amount of production which will be lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade war with China.
So, as Point of Order sees it, a big opportunity is opened for NZ food producers, particularly meat exporters, to be diverting as much of their product as they can to China.
And where’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters or Trade Minister David Parker in promoting meat sales to China? Continue reading “Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters”
As trade barriers go up between the US and China, the media seems to be both less certain and less critical in its view of President Trump’s policy. Simon Nixon in The Times says that Trump’s brinksmanship is either a masterstroke or a reckless bluff. Respected financial commentator Gillian Tett in the FT senses that executives are coming round to the view that Trump-style roughhousing may be the only way to deal with Chinese trade practices in areas like protection of intellectual property.
Few are willing to cheer on Trump’s strategy. Of course this may be because he doesn’t have one. He has done very well just by calling the flaws in the old policy (you know: no need worry about China’s growing power because they are becoming just like us). Perhaps now he is simply jumping from one tactical expedient to another.
But it may be that he has an idea that US – Chinese strategic rivalry should be a more significant element in international relations. He might envisage something on the lines of the old US – USSR relationship – trade in commodities and basic manufactures while clamping down on co-operation and investment in higher technologies – trying to preserve US predominance in high tech, software, AI, education and research, engineering and intellectual property.
Continue reading “Where does world trade go under Trump (and after)”
Britain’s governing Conservative party got a sound thrashing in local elections last week. This was expected. But the opposition Labour party performed pretty dismally too (see the BBC’s analysis). Third parties, and independents in particular, won big.
Labour and Conservative party leaders will be pondering what this double rejection means for their discussions on a Brexit compromise. They are thought to be mulling the potential for some combination of Prime Minister Theresa May’s exit deal (which would keep the UK closely aligned with the EU while negotiating preferential trade arrangements) plus guarantees not to agree any important changes before the next general election (which Labour hopes to win).
A compromise on these lines would consist of equal measures of postponement and pretence. This is not to be mocked: postponement can be a strength and pretence a necessity. Voters often prefer them to reality. But probably not in this case. The public seems unimpressed and getting it through Parliament and the EU would not be easy, according to Matthew d’Ancona in The Guardian.
So what would a real compromise look like? Essentially a UK outside the EU, but choosing to have close ties and a high level of economic and political alignment on mutually preferential terms. Theresa May’s exit deal was sold on the basis that it was a step towards this but fell down because it left the EU holding blocking cards in the ongoing negotiations. The election results suggest that a realisation is dawning among voters that this sort of compromise is precisely what the EU is ruling out.
So the choices for Britain’s voters are polarising: either stick with the EU (with some of Mrs May’s political window dressing perhaps) or political independence and trade on non-preferential (ie, WTO) terms. Which makes the decisions even tougher for the broad-based political parties. The governing Conservatives, if unable to negotiate a real compromise or sell a pretend one, will have to decide, first, if they can stick together and, secondly, if they can deliver a clean Brexit and retain power. Opposition Labour has to come up with an election-winning policy that reconciles current support for the principle of Brexit with a willingness to accept most of the EU’s terms. And the single issue parties are well positioned at both ends of the spectrum so that the voters can easily punish indecision. They look likely to do particularly well in the elections for the European Parliament starting on 23 May (and in which, as long as Brexit is on hold, the British will take part).
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker returned to NZ on Saturday after what his PR flaks described as a “successful” official visit to China.
So Point of Order went looking for the success. And yes, he has had talks with his ministerial counterparts in the trade and environment portfolios.
This, according to the press release issued in his name, constituted “ yet another step in this government’s work to deliver a modern, sustainable economy for New Zealanders”.
Wow. And no doubt our wellbeing will be lifted, too. Continue reading “Another step to building a modern economy – but an upgraded FTA with China would be welcome, too”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson sounded very sanguine about the impact of Brexit on the New Zealand economy when he answered a “patsy” question from one of his own back-benchers in Parliament.
He noted NZ and the UK have signed two agreements that will help ensure continuity and stability in the regulatory arrangements underpinning New Zealand’s trade.
But (rather less confidently) he added that all NZ businesses which might be affected by Brexit should consider the implications of the full range of scenarios for their business and ensure that they have contingency plans in place.
“Current uncertainty means it is important for us to prepare for the full range of potential outcomes. Treasury’s assessment is that a no-deal Brexit would likely have a small overall negative impact on the NZ economy, mainly due to disruption of some specific NZ businesses and industries. For example, UK tourist numbers could fall, Kiwi goods could face delays at the UK border, and importers could face supply disruptions”. Continue reading “Robertson sounded sanguine about Brexit – but he is urging NZ traders to have contingency plans”
Trade and Export Minister David Parker this week couldn’t disguise the satisfaction he got out of announcing the CPTPP trade and investment pact comes into effect next month. The timing means NZ will benefit from not one, but two rounds, of tariff cuts almost immediately in key markets.
Even though Labour was cool about the proposed pact when National was in power – and doing the hard yards in negotiations – Parker can take the credit for getting the job done, just as National took the credit for the free trade pact with China which the previous Labour government had initiated.
Continue reading “Greens are among the few grinches as political and business leaders welcome CPTPP”