Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK

Latest from the Beehive

Press statements and ministerial speeches were flowing into Point of Order’s email in-tray faster than the government’s publicists could post them on the Beehive website this morning. 

The outpouring included news that the parts of Waikato in Alert Level 3 will remain at that alert level till Wednesday.  

More significantly, the PM addressed the nation in Churchillian terms:

 Today I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders to share a plan that will help us stay safe from COVID-19 into the future.

 A future where we want to continue to protect people’s lives, but also to live our lives – as safely as possible.

This speech was accompanied by other ministerial speeches and announcements dealing with something the PM described as 

 “… the new framework we will use to help us minimise the impact of COVID, and protect ourselves”.

It included an economic support package (especially for supporting Auckland businesses) and a plan (with more money) to accelerate Māori vaccination rates.

Inevitably this did not satisfy the government’s political opponents. Continue reading “Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK”

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”

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”

UK-NZ free trade agreement looks likely to replicate Aussie deal, although Brits will be driving a hard bargain

With trade minister Damien O’Connor due in the northern hemisphere in September, London’s Daily Telegraph reports a free trade agreement between the UK and NZ is close.

Citing sources in the UK Department of international Trade, the newspaper says hopes are growing that a deal can be secured “within weeks.”  An announcement on New Zealand before the end of August is “highly possible” as discussions intensify.

 Australia’s agreement with the UK was settled in June.  The UK Government hopes to get it signed off by Boris Johnson and his counterpart Scott Morrison when the latter visits Britain in October for the Cop26 climate conference.

The Daily Telegraph’s source said trade secretary Liz Truss would be driving a hard bargain on key areas of interest.

“New Zealand will need to give us more on services, mobility and investment if they want a deal. If we have to go beyond then into September to get the best deal, then so be it.”

Any agreement  is likely to take a similar shape to Australia’s, which proposes a widespread liberalisation including staged removals of tariff quotas on agricultural exports which has drawn criticism from British farmers.

The Telegraph says the NZ FTA is expected to have a negligible effect on the UK’s GDP, with modelling by the trade department even indicating that an extensive deal could mildly reduce Britain’s national output.

Recent events have provided a potentially awkward backdrop for what may be the final weeks of talks.  Amazon last week announced that it would shift production of its highly anticipated Lord of the Rings TV series from New Zealand to the UK, in a major blow to the country’s creative and tourism industries, the paper said.

O’Connor (like the Black Caps) will deserve a victory parade if he can secure a trade deal with the UK that outscores Australia’s

The  government  has  been  beating  the drum on the  prospects  for  a  free  trade  deal with the United Kingdom, which it claims  is part  of the wider work  it is undertaking to support New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

Following  Trade Minister Damien O’Connor’s sessions  with UK Trade Secretary Truss in London to push along the bilateral negotiation, officials’ teams will spend the coming weeks finalising FTA details with the aim of reaching agreement in principle in August.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta told Parliament NZ  is working to achieve a high quality comprehensive trade deal.

“Our priority is a deal that delivers benefits for all New Zealanders. That includes seeking elimination on all tariffs over commercially meaningful time frames, and that takes account of our ambition across the agricultural sector”. Continue reading “O’Connor (like the Black Caps) will deserve a victory parade if he can secure a trade deal with the UK that outscores Australia’s”

Here’s hoping Damien O’Connor can strike a trade deal with the UK on terms similar to those secured by the Aussies

We have had the chance to scan the new Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade agreement and – if Trade Minister Damien O’Connor can negotiate similar terms for us – the prospects look hearteningly good for NZ.

Beef and sheep meat tariffs on Australian exports to the UK will be eliminated after 10 years. Sugar tariffs will be removed after eight years, and dairy tariffs after five years.

Short and medium grain milled rice will get immediate duty-free access once the FTA is in place.

During the countdown to tariff-free trade, Australian producers will gain incremental access to the British market.  Beef producers gain immediate access to a duty-free quota of 35,000 tonnes (rising to 110,000 tonnes a  year in a decade).  With sugar exports, producers have immediate access to a duty-free quota of 80,000 tonnes, rising by 20,000 tonnes each year.

Dairy farmers will also have access during the transition period to a duty-free quota for cheese of 24,000 tonnes. This will rise to 48,000 tonnes by year five. Continue reading “Here’s hoping Damien O’Connor can strike a trade deal with the UK on terms similar to those secured by the Aussies”

Let’s wish O’Connor well, as he dines with UK Minister in quest to secure a free trade deal – but Aussies are higher in the queue

Trade minister Damien O’Connor dines with his UK counterpart Liz Truss tomorrow  to begin the heavy-lifting on a NZ-UK free trade agreement.

The early signs are ominous.  Ozzie PM Scott Morrison managed to attend part of the G7 meeting in Cornwell where Australia’s FTA agreement was raised with the UK’s Boris Johnson.

Morrison says he’s waiting for ‘the right deal’ before the UK-Australia free trade agreement (FTA) is finalised, and the UK is eager to launch its post-Brexit economy by securing free trade agreements covering 80% of its trade within the next three years.

The UK Department for International Trade believes a trade deal could secure an additional £900 million ($1.6 billion) in exports to Australia.

In 2019-20, two-way goods and services trade was valued at $36.7 billion, making the UK Australia’s fifth-largest trading partner, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Morrison hopes to finalise the FTA tomorrow if certain issues can be dealt with.

But elements of the Australian FTA have created alarm within the UK. The National Farmers’ Union publicly begged for tariffs to remain on Australian beef and sheep.

NFU president Minette Batters says a tariff-free trade deal with Australia will jeopardise UK farming and could cause the demise of many, many beef and sheep farms throughout the UK.

There are several challenges for NZ.  It’s just as well, therefore, that O’Connor is accompanied by NZ trade supremo Vangelis Vitaly, a recognised world authority on trade policy.  Continue reading “Let’s wish O’Connor well, as he dines with UK Minister in quest to secure a free trade deal – but Aussies are higher in the queue”

Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods

Farmers    who  believed   Labour  when it  said  it wanted  to  double  agricultural  exports may have experienced  a  sense  of  disillusion as  they  absorbed the  messages  of  Budget 2021.  While  the  government  is  allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and  build locos  and  wagons in Dunedin,  it  could find  only  $62m  for  agriculture.

Someone  has  calculated  that  the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).

This  comparatively meagre  sum   is  to be  applied as  follows:

  • $37m towards a national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers.
  • $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development.
  • $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

Critics may  conclude   the small outlay for agriculture reflects Agriculture Minister Damien  O’Connor’s influence in Cabinet.  Others  may  see it as  evidence  of the traditional antipathy of Labour MPs  towards  farmers. Continue reading “Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods”

O’Connor phones to mollify the Aussies after trumpeting the pay-off from mollifying Beijing

Trade  Minister Damien  O’Connor  trumpeted  this week that the  New Zealand  and  Chinese  governments had signed  an upgrade to  the free trade agreement  between the  two countries.

We suspect he will be more coy about his contribution to the New Zealand–Australia relationship because his trumpeting – loud enough to cross the Tasman – included advice to Canberra to “show respect” and act more diplomatically towards China.   

The Aussies have been riled by those remarks, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Senior Australian government officials are infuriated at Mr O’Connor’s comments, which they see as a continuing pattern of New Zealand not joining other allies in standing up to China’s growing assertiveness in recent months.

China’s relations with Canberra remain frozen as a consequence of the Morrison government’s call for a Covid-19 inquiry and a series of punitive trade actions has been taken against Australian export sectors. Continue reading “O’Connor phones to mollify the Aussies after trumpeting the pay-off from mollifying Beijing”

Whatever trade gains are made in NZ-UK trade talks, we should brace to share them with Australia and the US

Trade Minister David Parker is gung-ho about getting a trade deal with the UK sewn up. He says NZ and the UK have strong trade and economic ties.

“NZ is pleased to be among the first countries to negotiate a trade agreement with one of our oldest friends”.

With a New Zealander, Crawford Falconer, in charge of the UK trade negotiating team, Parker, like the rest of the country, will be hoping for a favourable deal.

But as the UK is getting to grips with what NZ is seeking, it is also locked in negotiations with Australia and – moreover – is looking to seal trade deals with the US and Japan.  In that context, the negotiation with NZ may seem only a footnote.

For NZ, the difficulty may be that if it gets a deal done first with concessions from the UK, particularly on dairy and meat, then the UK may feel obliged to offer the same terms to Australia, and perhaps even the US.

The same day Parker was announcing the trade talks between NZ and the UK are to kick off,  Aussie Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, in Canberra, was telling Australians he was seeking an FTA with the UK and was aiming to “open up new doors for our farmers, businesses and investors”. Continue reading “Whatever trade gains are made in NZ-UK trade talks, we should brace to share them with Australia and the US”