The Single Economic Market: do the governments in Canberra and Wellington really want to advance the agenda?

Although the governments in Canberra and Wellington declare they are both committed to advancing the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda, building on the success of the Closer Economic Relations (CER) Trade Agreement, the recent meeting of the respective trade ministers in Auckland didn’t produce much more than an array of platitudes, and certainly left business lobbies on both sides of the Tasman yawning.

Continue reading “The Single Economic Market: do the governments in Canberra and Wellington really want to advance the agenda?”

Commodity export prices provide some cheer, even for those downcast Fonterra farmer-suppliers

NZ lamb export prices have hit their highest level since 1982. That mightn’t be good news if you are contemplating a roast leg of lamb for the barbecue this weekend.

But for NZ meat producers that, and the high prices being earned in markets like Japan for beef, suggest it’ll be a good season for NZ’s meat producers.

This is despite the global uncertainty stemming from trade wars particularly between China and the US, two of NZ’s main markets. The outbreak of swine fever in China is likely to sustain demand for other meat such as beef.

Continue reading “Commodity export prices provide some cheer, even for those downcast Fonterra farmer-suppliers”

CANZUK – a terrible name but a promising idea

Every so often, an editor desperate for copy runs a feature promoting some Commonwealth-revival initiative.  Most of these are bad ideas. But a recent one is worth thinking twice about.

CANZUK is a proposal for arrangements, or even a pact, leading to freedom of movement, free trade and foreign policy coordination between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (the “CANZUK” countries).  It has its own global think tank and advocacy body (Canzuk International) with a modest profile in the four countries.  It got a bit of coverage on Stuff last year.  Now its getting more air time in the UK as Boris Johnson’s government seeks to exit the EU by 31 October.

Continue reading “CANZUK – a terrible name but a promising idea”

Jones seems unstoppable (until he has emptied the PGF trough) – but what are the trade policy effects?

Shanes Jones liberal distributions of public money from the Provincial Growth Fund raise issues far beyond he prudence of government trying to pick winners and the potential for favouring political supporters.

There are trade policy implications, too.

Stuff writer Hamish Rutherford drew attention to this last December, when he examined Jones’ justification for why the Government had decided to lend almost $10 million to debt-laden Westland Milk Products.

Rutherford described the PGF as a $1 billion-a-year pot which NZ First won during coalition negotiations, to fill what he believes is a void. Continue reading “Jones seems unstoppable (until he has emptied the PGF trough) – but what are the trade policy effects?”

Crawford Falconer breaks his silence to say Brexit has given the UK something to say about trade

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”

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters

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”

Where does world trade go under Trump (and after)

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)”