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”

Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe

PM Jacinda Ardern is planning a major visit to Europe next month. Details have yet to be announced but she is expected to visit Paris, Brussels and possibly Berlin.

She is heading NZ’s campaign to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union. First visit is likely to be Paris where she will have a warm welcome from President Emmanuel Macron. This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

The French are feeling bruised over the Australia-UK-US nuclear submarine agreement and the cancellation of the $80 billion contract to build French nuclear submarines converted to diesel-electric power in Adelaide. France has already signalled it would not impede a NZ-EU trade pact.

European countries generally are concerned at the new nuclear submarine pact.  EU capitals had no prior warning despite President Joe Biden’s expressed desires to repair relations bruised under Donald Trump.  It was also angered by Biden’s failure to alert Europe of his withdrawal from Afghanistan despite the presence of European forces in that country. Continue reading “Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe”

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”

Has ‘Johnsonism’ arrived?

Britain’s new health minister, Sajid Javid, says he will keep wearing a mask after formal restrictions are removed in the next fortnight.  It’s a more political than public health gesture.  Unless perhaps he’s meeting unvaccinated ministerial visitors from Australia or New Zealand.

Britain’s Covid debate is morphing faster than the virus.  Thanks to the fast spreading Delta variant and a super-charged vaccination programme it’s plausible that pretty much everyone bar Scottish lighthouse keepers will have had Covid antibodies delivered to them by the end of the year via neighbours or needle. 

Continue reading “Has ‘Johnsonism’ arrived?”

Vaccine politics look like normal politics – just more extreme

Point of Order has been consistent in anticipating an irritable post-Brexit relationship between Britain and the EU.  But who would have thought vaccine politics would develop as a major flashpoint, let alone a possible relationship breaker?

Even hyper-critical Brits have had to acknowledge that the UK government is a leader in the global vaccination rollout.  And as more background information seeps into the public arena, the British government’s decisiveness in supporting vaccine development, committing early to contracts and driving mass vaccination is looking better and better.

But the same comparisons spell political danger for European politicians. Co-ordination by the EU appears to have resulted in slowness: slowness in making commitments, in tweaking the production process and in approving the product.

Continue reading “Vaccine politics look like normal politics – just more extreme”

Boris Johnson: the man who saved Europe?

This year has seen some spectacular political victories: Jacinda Ardern in NZ’s election and now Boris’s post-Brexit trade treaty with the EU. But having secured a triumph, the risk is in resting on the laurels, when one should be looking to exploit to the full.

And Boris’s victory does look comprehensive. His critics alternated between saying he would never get a deal or it would be a very bad one. In fact, he has achieved his main objectives of rolling over the existing tariff-and-quota-free trade terms and securing recognition of the UK’s sovereign equality in managing the ongoing relationship.

Continue reading “Boris Johnson: the man who saved Europe?”

Some Christmas cheer from the Brits – their trade deal with the EU is as good as we could have expected

As readers well know, we at Point of Order never rest. So, we break your post-Christmas reverie to report some very good news for New Zealand from Britain’s exit from the European Union. 

The Christmas Eve deal ensures there will be no tariffs and no quotas on British-EU trade.

Neither side will impose tariffs on goods being traded and a zero quota agreement  means there will be no limits on the quantity of any type of goods that could be traded.  Furthermore, the UK will be able to strike free trade deals with other countries including NZ.

In essence, with both sides agreeing there will be no tariffs and quotas, NZ avoids the worst-possible alternative which would seriously impact NZ exports into the EU and Britain. Exporters trading across the UK and the EU may still face issues.  It’s as good as NZ negotiators hoped for. Continue reading “Some Christmas cheer from the Brits – their trade deal with the EU is as good as we could have expected”

Europe’s false step on tech

You’ve got to hand it to the EU’s leadership.  They are planning to welcome a Joe Biden victory with a proposal for renewed and refreshed co-operation – preferably on Europe’s terms.  

It is billed as a “once-in-a-generation” offer for the US to join the EU’s many committees and after the usual excruciating discussion, agree to adopt its approach in areas like digital regulation, competition policy, security and post-Covid action. 

No doubt a Biden administration will find something to like in the European menu.  But not as much as the Europeans might hope.

Continue reading “Europe’s false step on tech”

Innovation works very well indeed

Matt Ridley – former science editor of The Economist and prolific popular science writer – has tackled a slippery subject in his book How Innovation Works’. He succeeds in painting a vibrant and at times counter intuitive picture of this process. One that policy makers and public alike can usefully ponder.

A major contribution is demystification.  He trashes the model of a tortured genius locked in the lab. Innovation comes from lots of people, competing or in concert, working by trial and error, sharing or stealing knowledge. It occurs when the conditions are right, because it bubbles out of the accumulation and testing of knowledge (hence the prevalence of simultaneous invention from calculus to light bulbs). ‘Ideas having sex’ is his metaphor of choice. And this tends to happen where innovators can gather and experiment free of restrictions.   

Continue reading “Innovation works very well indeed”

It isn’t hard cheese if the EU gets its way with GIs, chef insists – but dairy exporters are likely to disagree

Kiwi cheese-makers will be wondering which advice they should take from chef Simon Gault.

This week he was saying they should stop trying to imitate brie and gouda and focus on producing uniquely New Zealand styles.

His advice was given to people watching a webinar arranged by the European Union Delegation to New Zealand, an outfit committed to promoting the EU’s increasing use of geographical indications to protect European products.

In June last year, however, Gault  was singing the praises of NZ French-style cheeses. 

In particular, he was enthusing about a French-style camembert made in the Nelson region.

So you don’t have to go to France to buy a cheese, he advised.

“ Bastille day is coming up – let’s buy NZ French cheese” Continue reading “It isn’t hard cheese if the EU gets its way with GIs, chef insists – but dairy exporters are likely to disagree”