NZ Herald regards NZ and China as allies – but this doesn’t gel with the PM saying our allegiances are with like-minded countries

“Nothing like  a  trip abroad   to  put  a  spring in the  PM’s  step” – or so said the  sub-heading  on  a  report  in  the   NZ  Herald   on  Saturday  of Jacinda  Ardern’s  visit  to  the United  States, a  visit  which  by  most accounts  was  successful  in its  primary   aim of reviving contacts with  both  political  and  business  leaders.

Political editor Claire Trevett put it aptly:

“NZ was looking for new growth in its relationship with the US after the pause of the Trump era”.

New Zealanders, too, were chuffed at  the  success  of  the  PM’s  mission,  her  popularity  with  the  Americans  she met,  and  especially her chat with President  Joe  Biden.  The applause she won for her address at Harvard University in itself  was  remarkable, and   probably  stimulated  Trevett  to  note that:

“The Ardern in the US was a stark contrast to the Ardern we have seen in New Zealand in recent months”.

So, will  we  see Ardern back  at the  top  of  her  form,  now  she  is home  again? Continue reading “NZ Herald regards NZ and China as allies – but this doesn’t gel with the PM saying our allegiances are with like-minded countries”

Yes, Mahuta has been mute on China’s Pacific manoeuvres, but maybe she awaits a steer from our White House-bound PM

National’s  Gerry  Brownlee  had  a  free   hit  on Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta,  whom  he  sees as   missing  in  action as  China  makes its  moves  to  become a dominant power in  the  Pacific.  These moves – potentially – pose a  security threat  to  Australia  and  New Zealand.

While  foreign  affairs  experts  are  expressing  alarm  and calling  on  the  government  to  urgently repair NZ’s  run-down defences, specifically  equipping  our  army  with  missiles  and  drones, there  is  silence  from both  Mahuta and Defence  Minister Peeni Henare.

Brownlie  says Mahuta

“….needs to front up and explain what she’ll be doing to salvage New Zealand’s relationship with the Pacific.

“Last week, we heard that China is seeking a sweeping agreement with ten Pacific Island countries, covering everything from national security to climate change and education. Three countries have already signed up or indicated their support; the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Samoa. Continue reading “Yes, Mahuta has been mute on China’s Pacific manoeuvres, but maybe she awaits a steer from our White House-bound PM”

Why exporters should consider decoupling from China and focus more on opportunities provided by India’s growth

Not many New Zealanders   may  have  noticed what is  happening in China or India – but their   economies  appear  to  be  tracking  in  opposite  directions.  Those movements could have a powerful  impact in  turn   on  NZ’s  economic fortunes.

Point   of  Order  is  indebted   to   two  remarkable   pieces  of  journalism  for   insights  that give  context to these issues.  One  report appeared in  the  Guardian  Weekly,  the  other in  The  Economist.

The  first, by  Larry Elliott,  was headed “Stifled dragon: No-one  should take  delight in Beijing’s  economic  woes”  and argues  a  full-blown   economic crash  would be  as  damaging  to  the  world as  the  US sub-prime mortgage crisis  was.

The  report in  The  Economist focused  on  India’s  economy  which, it  said, is  likely  to be the  world’s fastest-growing big  economy this year.  The  details prompted  The Economist  to  editorialise  that   the  Indian  economy  is  being  rewired.

“The  opportunity  is  immense— and so  are  the  stakes”.

The question  for NZ  exporters, who  have  become  dangerously dependent on  the Chinese  market  is  whether  they should   now  be  exploring prospects   on the Indian  sub-continent.

Larry Elliott  wrote  that  China has  been  central to the  story of  globalisation over the  past  30  years,  but  now  it is  struggling.

More  than two years after  Covid19  cases  were  discovered  in Wuhan,  the  world’s  most  populous country has  yet to get on  top of the  virus. Continue reading “Why exporters should consider decoupling from China and focus more on opportunities provided by India’s growth”

Buzz from the Beehive – or (unwittingly) is the way being paved for booze in schools to boost kids’ health and wellbeing?

The news from the Beehive has been mixed on the trade front – greater trade liberalisation with China was welcomed by Trade Minister Damien O’Connor but was countered by his announcement (alongside Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta) of significant new sanctions against Russia.

It’s a good thing our trade with China is much greater than our trade with Russia.

But the government’s general inclination to regulate rather than liberalise is reflected in its signalling a Nanny State crackdown on what our kids can drink.

It has opened a public consultation on a proposal for primary schools to offer only “healthy” drinks.  We trust they know what they are doing with this one.

We say this because alcoholic drinks are good for our health, according to some websites checked out by Point of Order. Consumption must be moderate, true, but that should apply to whatever our kids eat and drink.

Hence we look forward to our toddlers toasting each other with a cheery “good health” before they sink their daily toddies.  Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – or (unwittingly) is the way being paved for booze in schools to boost kids’ health and wellbeing?”

Trade developments: PM heads for USA to push high-tech exports while O’Connor announces starting date for revised China FTA

New Zealand does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, visitors to the Official Website of the US International Trade Administration are advised.

They are further advised of New Zealand’s aims to have FTA arrangements to cover 90 per cent of NZ goods exports by 2030.

But while the PM announced yesterday she will undertake a trade-focused visit to the United States in May, the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the US wasn’t mentioned in her press statement.  She talked, rather, of New Zealand’s high-technology export sectors.

This was followed by COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announcing new traveller requirements which he described as another milestone towards the reopening of our international border.

And then came news from Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor that  the Upgrade to New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with China will take effect on 7 April.

The only other announcement on the Beehive website, since Point of Order reported yesterday on what Jacinda Ardern and her ministers are doing, came from Environment Minister David Parker. Continue reading “Trade developments: PM heads for USA to push high-tech exports while O’Connor announces starting date for revised China FTA”

There is an alternative to Trump. It looks like this

Wolfgang Munchau is a favourite European political commentator.  You have to love a guy who ran the argument that Germany and Britain should team up to run the European Union.

Naturally you’d like to know his views on the new German governing coalition, which has just published its 178-page policy agreement.

The most interesting thing about the coalition is that it brings together the enviro-statist Green party with the right-liberal Free Democrats, who, as Munchau says can’t stand the sight of each other”.

Continue reading “There is an alternative to Trump. It looks like this”

US and Chinese interests are at stake in violent Honiara politicking: NZ waits to be asked for help before becoming involved

Latest from the Beehive

Violence in Honiara – three days of looting and destruction, demands for the PM to step down  and the declaration of a nightly curfew – has prompted one of two new posts on the Beehive website since we last updated our monitoring.

Reporting on the unrest, RNZ Pacific correspondent in Honiara, Georgina Kekea, said only six buildings were still standing in Honiara’s Chinatown.

In Wellington, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker has expressed this country’s deep concern at events unfolding in  the capital of the Solomon Islands.

“New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and there are deep and enduring connections between our two countries,” Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker said. Continue reading “US and Chinese interests are at stake in violent Honiara politicking: NZ waits to be asked for help before becoming involved”

Australia aims to stymie China with $US1.6bn telecoms purchase in the Pacific

Australia is to buy the mobile phone networks of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu from Digicel Group based in Jamaica. Telstra Corp, the country’s biggest telecom operator, will pay $US1.6 billion for the deal backed by $US1.3 billion from the Government’s export finance agency.

Commentators describe this as a significant strategic move to block another potential buyer – China.  Three years ago, Canberra announced it would build an undersea high-speed internet cable to the Solomon Islands, shutting out China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from the project. Australia had earlier banned Huawei from involvement in its own 5G mobile network.

The purchase sits alongside underwater cables Australia has with its Pacific partners.

The Wall Street Journal quotes John Lee, a senior fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, saying,

“It’s ensuring that a potential adversarial power doesn’t own infrastructure which would impact on not just Australia’s communications capabilities, but also its military capabilities. Underwater warfare is increasingly important and these cables are directly relevant to that.” Continue reading “Australia aims to stymie China with $US1.6bn telecoms purchase in the Pacific”

Investors see promising signs of recovery in infant formula sales in China

After  a  rough  ride  since  Covid-19  struck, the New Zealand economy  is  in   better   shape   than might  have been  predicted  at the  onset  of the  pandemic.  Yet labour  shortages,  an energy crisis  in Europe  and  China, and  massive  inflationary  pressures suggest  that  the  passage  ahead   will  be  anything  but  smooth.

With  the  government abandoning  the  elimination  strategy  and  moving  towards  living  with  endemic  Covid, the  country  is adjusting  to  the  prospect  of  a  new  normal.  But  without  any  sign of  the  number of  cases  of the Delta  variant  diminishing, restrictions  may  persist  for  longer  than  might  have been  imagined  just  weeks  ago.

It’s  a  blow  to  industries  looking  to  inflows  of  workers  to ease  labour  shortages, particularly  in the  rural  regions,  which  last  season  sustained  the  economy  with  the  production of  commodities  that  were  in  relatively  tight  supply  in  world markets,  fetching excellent  returns. Continue reading “Investors see promising signs of recovery in infant formula sales in China”

AUKUS – it’s all very well expressing our moral repugnance but that won’t halt China’s bullying

“AUKUS  logic  is  morally  repugnant,  and NZ  must  resist  it”  ran the  headline  over a leader- page  feature  in the  Dominion-Post recently.

In  the article beneath that advice, Thomas  Nash, co-director of the independent  think-tank, New Zealand Alternative,  argued the  AUKUS  alliance  between Australia, the  United Kingdom  and the United  States has  triggered a  dangerous line  in commentary  questioning this country’s nuclear-free  status.

Nash  says  many of the opinion writers appear to prioritise  a  militarist  worldview  but  he  contends if we  are to  enjoy a  peaceful  future, we should  do the  exact  opposite  “and  forge closer  relations  that  share our  anti-nuclear  values”.

NZ should resist  pressure to  fall  into line with  the military  power  of the  US, the  UK and  Australia.

Instead of focusing  our  diplomatic  and  security  efforts on the  Five  Eyes, he argues, we should strengthen our  relationships  in Asean  countries, Latin America,  and in our neighbouring nuclear-free Pacific  Islands. Continue reading “AUKUS – it’s all very well expressing our moral repugnance but that won’t halt China’s bullying”