Another challenge for Damien O’Connor: NZ has fallen behind Aussies and the Brits in striking free trade deals with India

As  India  fulfils  its  long-held   dream of  becoming  an  economic  super-power, New Zealand  is  again  being  left  on  the  sidelines.  First Australia  and  now  the  UK  have  beaten  it  to the punch  in  securing  free  trade  deals with India, a country  in Asia with  which  New Zealanders  have  always   felt  an  affinity — and  not  just  in  cricket

As The Economist  reported   earlier  this  month,  a  vast national  market  is  being created there and  empires  are  being built  on  new  technologies.

India  is  forecast  to be  the  world’s  fastest -growing  economy in 2022. For  India  to grow at 7%  or 8% for  years  to  come  would be  “momentous”.

The Economist  cited  four  pillars that  will  support  growth in the  next  decade:  the  forging  of  a  single  national  market, an expansion  of  industry  owing to  the   renewable  energy  shift and  a  move  in  supply  chains away  from China, continued  pre-eminence  in  IT, and  a  high-tech  safety net for  the  hundreds  of  millions  left  behind  by  all  this. Continue reading “Another challenge for Damien O’Connor: NZ has fallen behind Aussies and the Brits in striking free trade deals with India”

Govt is chuffed with NZ-UK free trade agreement but Jane Kelsey has spotted some shortcomings (including the Maori chapter)

It’s  “historic”    and  “one  of  our  best  deals  ever”.  So  enthuses  the PM,  Jacinda Ardern, about  the  new free  trade  deal  with  the  United Kingdom.

She and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke yesterday evening to mark this historic moment and its importance in forging a stronger and more dynamic future relationship between two close friends and partners, Ardern said.

“This deal serves New Zealand’s economy and exporters well as we reconnect, rebuild and recover from COVID-19, and look forward into the future.”

And:

“It’s one of our best deals ever and secured at a crucial time in our COVID recovery.” 

NZ is the second country to secure a new free trade agreement with the United Kingdom post Brexit.  Continue reading “Govt is chuffed with NZ-UK free trade agreement but Jane Kelsey has spotted some shortcomings (including the Maori chapter)”

Nash delivers a tip top report on ice cream and its export potential – and maybe scientists will scoop up some research funding

We are pleased to report that science continues to loom large in the considerations of government policy-shapers.

We say this on the strength of something we noted in the Food and Beverage Information Project Report – Ice Cream, released this week to promote ice cream and its export potential.

The report says its information

“… will provide much greater insight into the industry, which is useful for a range of policy developments, from regulatory frameworks to investment in science and skills and facilitating access to international markets.”

We are uncertain, of course, whether this is a reference to science as we knew it before the Treaty of Waitangi was reinterpreted in recent years to require the merging of matauranga Maori with the teaching and practice of science.

On the other hand, we may find that ice cream was being made here long before Captain Cook turned up and appropriate Treaty partnerships – injections of the Maori knowledge that has become a politically critical component of modern-day Kiwi science and research – would greatly enhance the quality of the results.

Continue reading “Nash delivers a tip top report on ice cream and its export potential – and maybe scientists will scoop up some research funding”

The PM has a chat with Boris and then delivers good news – about a trade deal with UK – to take our minds off Covid

Latest from the Beehive

New Zealand’s trade  negotiators  have  scored  a  coup  in   a  new  free trade  deal  with  the  UK.

Their success gave the PM something to cheer about today, taking our minds off Covid-19 and all its grim impacts on  the way we live.

She declared:

I am delighted to announce today that following a conversation with Prime Minister Johnson last night, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have Agreed in Principle a historic high-quality, comprehensive and inclusive free trade agreement.

I’m joined today by the Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Hon Damien O’Connor, who is currently isolating after having just returned from Europe. His tireless work with his UK counterparts has been key in securing this agreement.

Fonterra led the country’s exporters in  cheering the  outcome, with CEO  Miles Hurrell applauding  it as “a fantastic result for New Zealand”.

Damien O’Connor said  it was  crucial  the deal achieved “comprehensive and commercially meaningful access” for NZ exporters and businesses, and especially to those sectors that are the backbone of NZ’s economy such as  dairy and meat producers.

Under the  agreement announced today, tariffs on 97% of goods will go  once a final agreement is settled, with all tariffs removed within 15 years.

That’s expected to save exporters $37.8m a year. Continue reading “The PM has a chat with Boris and then delivers good news – about a trade deal with UK – to take our minds off Covid”

Geographical Indications are among the sensitive issues for NZ in free-trade talks with EU

Trade  Minister  Damien  O’Connor  has  revived hopes  that  New Zealand  can  land  a free  trade  agreement  with the  UK  this  year  and another one subsequently  with  the  EU, following  his just- concluded  mission  to  European capitals.

Farm lobbies  had  not been  confident   when  he  set  out.  In  the case  of the  UK  we had been beaten to the punch by  Australia.

It  seemed  unlikely  NZ  could  get  anything better  than their  Australian counterparts  who  appeared willing to  accept  a  long  phaseout on duties  on,  in particular,  most farm products, including dairy.

Since then Australia  has  entered  the  AUKUS  pact,  which  particularly  riled France’s President Macron because Australia’s decision to  acquire  nuclear submarines  from the US   meant cancellation of  a  previous  (very expensive)  deal to  buy French   diesel-powered submarines.

So  one  of  the major thrusts of  O’Connor’s  mission  became advancing  free trade negotiations with the EU.

Continue reading “Geographical Indications are among the sensitive issues for NZ in free-trade talks with EU”

Our trade minister is hard at work in the quest for more FTAs – but several factors are frustrating his efforts

The government’s trade policy is running into quicksand. Reports from London and European capitals indicate there is little chance of immediate progress with free trade agreement negotiations with the UK or the European Union.

Don’t blame trade minister Damien O’Connor, a genial fellow who has generated much enthusiastic support from embassies around the world for his willingness to travel and engage with his counterparts.  Likewise, with MFAT trade supremo Vangelis Vitalis, highly regarded around the world for his trade craft.

On the other hand, there is a growing mood of desperation in the business world and other sectors at the reluctance of ministers, from the PM downwards, to travel offshore.  The PM delivered her annual address to the UN General Assembly by video.

Observers say whatever message she conveyed was simply lost in the electronic blizzard. Nothing replaces a personal appearance.

Prospects are firming for the first overseas trip by the minister of foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta, principally to Doha where she will lead a troupe of singers and dancers to perform at the New Zealand pavilion of the delayed world trade expo. All have been guaranteed MIQ spots on return home as they are “representing New Zealand”.

Put the lack of movement on the trade-policy front down to several factors.

First, the state of politics in both the UK and the EU. Capitals have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and economies are only now beginning to recover.

There is alarm in the EU at the return of inflation. Prices, led by gas and electricity, are surging.  While France is likely to support an FTA with NZ, other support can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

London is looking to import turkeys from Poland and France for the Christmas trade because UK farmers had to curb production because of labour shortages. The Johnson government has been forced to reverse its policy of limiting 5,500 emergency work visas for the poultry industry to the turkey sector.

Visas will be available to any poultry workers after poultry producers, which previously relied on labour from eastern Europe, warned of threats to Christmas and potential overcrowding on chicken farms because of a lack of workers.

Britain is facing a series of crises ahead of Christmas. A shortage of heavy-vehicle drivers has led to the army delivering petrol.

Gas is short because of low stockpiles and a summer of lighter than forecast winds reduced wind-generated power supplies. Across the EU energy supplies are reaching crisis point as Russia appears reluctant to provide more than contracted gas supplies.

Second, the UK and EU have no appetite for new trade pacts, fearing a political backlash from electorates wearied by Covid.  As we have already noted, the UK-NZ FTA was driven in London by Liz Truss, now the UK foreign secretary.  Now there is a different mood in the British capital where the Johnson government has been badly bruised by farmer reaction, especially in traditional Conservative-voting electorates, to the UK-Australian FTA.

In recent decades, NZ prime ministers have always declared, amidst crises and dramas, that “this is not a good time to be in government”. Trade minister O’Connor may well say the same.

Free trade agreements: why NZ might look again at trying to join the USMCA

Britain, like New Zealand, is having a hard time even focusing the US Government on a free trade agreement. Rather, NZ is going the way of encouraging President Joe Biden’s administration to reconsider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Partnership.

We believe a NZ-US free trade agreement was barely mentioned during trade minister Damien O’Conner’s Washington DC meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and others.

Issues such as the USA’s position on the World Trade Organisation were higher on his agenda.

Ahead of the presidential elections last year, Biden made clear his lack of enthusiasm for free trade, mainly at the behest of American trade unions which provided massive financial and “get out the vote” support. Only 6.1% of the US private work force is unionised. Continue reading “Free trade agreements: why NZ might look again at trying to join the USMCA”

A NZ-UK trade agreement will be another – albeit small – step in the re-ordering of global trade

There is increasing chatter in London that the NZ-UK trade deal will be announced in days, with invitations to briefings being diaried for Tuesday.

But it’s worth noting that the UK commentators seem to be excising the prefix ‘free’ from the ‘trade agreement’, perhaps reflecting better understanding that these days there is no free trade without a substantial regulatory component.

While NZ’s producers will no doubt be grateful if they get an Australian-style phased reduction of tariffs and quotas as has been briefed, the non-tariff/quota regulatory barriers will be just as important in the long run.

That at least would seem to be the view of the eminent organ, the Irish Farmers Journal, in its assessment of the currently-fraught implementation of free trade arrangements between the EU, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain (ie, the UK minus Northern Ireland).

Continue reading “A NZ-UK trade agreement will be another – albeit small – step in the re-ordering of global trade”

Why farmers will be hoping for a better FTA agreement with the Brits than the Aussies secured

Reports  this  week  indicate that  New Zealand is  getting  closer  to a  free  trade  deal  with  the  UK.  Trade Minister  Damien O’Connor says  NZ’s negotiators  have been working around the clock to reach the shared objective of an FTA agreement in principle by the end of August.

The problem, as  Point of Order understands it,  is that  NZ has  been  offered  the  same arrangements as  Australia  on  agricultural products,  with  a  phase-out  of  tariffs  over  11  years.

As  NZ trade  expert  Stephen Jacobi argues:

“It would be absolutely ridiculous if we were to enter into an FTA with the UK that did not put forward the prospect of free trade, zero tariffs in lamb and beef and dairy within a reasonable timeframe.”

Britain’s Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, says teams are working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” she said.

“NZ and the UK are natural partners united by modern values. An agreement would reflect those ideals and is a win-win for both countries.” Continue reading “Why farmers will be hoping for a better FTA agreement with the Brits than the Aussies secured”