Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has left for Beijing for the first ministerial visit to China since 2019.
Mahuta is to meet China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang where she might have to call on all the diplomatic skills at her command.
Almost certainly she will face questions on what role NZ might seek to play in the AUKUS defence pact involving Australia, the UK and the US.
President Joe Biden’s National Security Council co-ordinator for the Indo Pacific, Kurt Campbell, was reported this week as saying the US is looking for other working group partners now that the ‘critical components’ of the Indo-Pacific alliance have been launched. Continue reading “Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister” →
As New Zealand’s export season gains momentum, there are some encouraging signs for the farming industries on the price front. For good measure, the NZ dollar has eased in value against the US dollar.
The ANZ Bank’s world commodity price index increased 1.3% m/m in February, a welcome lift, the bank says, after 10 consecutive monthly falls. Stronger returns for meat and forestry products were the main drivers. In local currency terms the index gained 2.0%.
Dairy prices lifted 0.2% month-on-month in February, with the dairy auctions delivering mixed results. ANZ economist Susan Kilsby says there is a strong expectation that improved economic activity in China will drive increased demand for dairy products, but this is yet to really materialise. Continue reading “Still mixed signals on the export price front, with a worrying cloud on the edge of the horizon” →
Earlier this week Point of Order carried a post by Geoffrey Miller on how Japan under a new security blueprint is doubling its defence spending. The plans see Japan buying up advanced weaponry – including long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US – and spending more on developing hypersonic and cybersecurity technology.
Miller writes that Japan’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) openly calls out China, describing Beijing a ‘matter of serious concern for Japan’ and the ‘greatest strategic challenge’ to the country’s security.
The NSS also alleges China is developing its ‘strategic ties’ with Russia and is seeking to ‘challenge the international order’.
Meanwhile The Economist offers insights into what it defines as “Reinventing the Indo-Pacific”. Continue reading “In the face of China’s “coercive tendencies”, is it time for NZ to shape its own “Indo-Pacific strategy”?” →
Japan is a country on the move.
Since World War II, Tokyo has largely been happy to outsource its security needs to Washington.
But this is now changing to a more equal partnership.
On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called his country’s alliance with the United States ‘stronger than ever’.
For his part, US President Joe Biden, who hosted Kishida at the White House, said the United States was ‘fully, thoroughly, completely committed to the alliance’ with Japan.
The words from Kishida and Biden might seem like the usual diplomatic niceties, but behind the smiles from the two leaders was a quantum shift in Tokyo’s foreign policy positioning.
The war’s legacy and subsequent 1947 pacifist constitution help to explain why Japan has until now preferred its military to keep a low profile – a deal which has come at a bargain price. Continue reading “Political Roundup: What Japan’s foreign policy shifts mean for New Zealand” →
Buzz from the Beehive
It was the equivalent of a double feature produced (with our money) by the munificent Stuart Nash, Minister of Economic and Regional Development.
First, on Friday, he announced the Government’s approval of
- a $2 million loan from the Queenstown Economic Transformation and Resilience Fund to enable an outfit called Target 3D Ltd to upscale the Queenstown Digital Studio; and
- a loan of up to $1.25 million for Queenstown-based Loaded Reports Ltd.
But wait. There’s lots more where that came from – and later in the day Nash (this time with other ministers clamouring to share the limelight) reminded us the government has invested $30 million through the Infrastructure Reference Group in upgrades to the Auckland Film Studio
The occasion was the completion of the upgrades which (the ministers insisted) will provide an economic boost for Auckland and the country as a whole.
The project was also funded by Auckland Council. Continue reading “Lights, cameras, action – and Stuart Nash gets to co-star with fellow ministers by bankrolling movie-makers” →
Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a trade deal with India.
Australia has secured a free trade deal with what is the planet’s fifth-biggest economy.
In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.
Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019.
“RCEP contains provisions enabling expedited accession by India should it wish to re-join RCEP at some point in the future, says O’Connor.
In the meantime NZ and India continued to work together to strengthen their broader bilateral relationship, he says.
But why should NZ be missing out on getting something like Australia’s deal? Continue reading “Why keeping tabs on Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India” →
If the delegates at a conference of nurses yesterday serve as a guide, when it comes to our telling them what ails us and describing the symptoms, we should worry about how many cannot comprehend English and how many prefer to communicate in te reo.
This question of language and communication has been raised after Health Minister Andrew Little kicked off his address to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Toputanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa Conference.
He chose words that are incomprehensible if you happen to have no grasp of te reo.
Tēnā tātou katoa
Ki te reo pōwhiri, kei te mihi
Ki a koutou ngā pou o te whare hauora o Aotearoa, kei te mihi
He taura tangata, he taura kaupapa e hono ana i a tātou katoa i tēnei rā,
Arā, ko te New Zealand Nurses Organisation Toputanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa annual conference.
Mauri ora ki a tātou katoa.
Little’s speech has been posted on the Beehive website along with news that ministers have been… Continue reading “Little’s speech to nurses draws attention to the matter of language and comprehension as well as to visas and wages” →
A mixed bag of news came down the line for New Zealand’s dairy industry over the past week. On one side, Fonterra trimmed its forecast payout for the season, while on another a2 Milk surprised its critics by reporting a 42% jump in net profit to $114m.
Any company listed on the NZX and sitting on a cash mountain of $800m must be doing something right. Yet some of the headlines on its result focussed on what might go wrong for the company that specialises in marketing a2 milk and infant formula.
For example Business Desk’s Jenny Ruth says the biggest source of uncertainty for a2 Milk right now is China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) deadline of February 21, 2023, for companies selling infant formula in China to get a new form of approval. It’s called the GB standard, which is a Chinese national standard. Foreign companies won’t be able to manufacture formula for the Chinese market beyond that date unless they meet the new standard and have that all-important tick from SAMR.
But the investment community was cheered by the result in what is currently a rather downmarket climate. A2 Milk’s share price rallied sharply after the company reported the leap in profit which was driven by strong growth in its infant formula business in China. Continue reading “A2 share price rallies sharply after the dairy processor reports big jump in net profit” →
It’s a tense time in New Zealand’s farming industries. Already the Ministry for Primary Industries has had to shoot down an overseas news report that China had shut its borders to NZ and Australian products due to concerns about foot-and-mouth.
NZ exports to China are continuing as normal, a Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said.
And Fonterra’s fortnightly GDT auction went ahead as scheduled this week, with keen bidding by Chinese buyers.
Prices fell for the fifth consecutive time but buying caution was attributed to the fact consumers are worrying about soaring food prices. Other observers noted the impact on demand of disruption from Covid-19 lockdowns in China, an economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Continue reading “MPI allays foot-and-mouth rumours while prices fall again at dairy auction” →
Buzz from the Beehive
New Zealand’s relationships with China, the ASEAN countries and Samoa were embraced by speeches and announcements that flowed from the Beehive after Disarmament Minister Phil Twyford had delivered his Statement to the 2022 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Trade Minister Damien O’Connor addressed the China Business Summit, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departed for the Indo-Pacific region for a programme of talks on security and economic issues, and the PM announced the launch of a new climate change partnership with Samoa and confirmed support for the rebuild of the capital’s main market.
The PM’s announcements were accompanied by $15 million to support Samoa’s response to climate change and $12 million toward the rebuild of the Savalalo Market in Apia
Ministers with a domestic focus meanwhile were getting on with telling us about their legislative and regulatory agendas and other programmes.
A major item was the launch today of New Zealand’s first National Adaptation Plan, designed to ensure communities have the information and support they need to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
But our lives will also be affected – for better or worse – by:- Continue reading “Recovering our relationships with China, ASEAN and Samoa while grappling with climate change and protecting the kauri” →