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”

Here’s hoping Ardern gets to meet Biden during US trade visit – and O’Connor finds time to check out gene-editing benefits

New Zealand’s  export industries are looking  to a  new  era in the  wake of life returning to something like  normal in international markets.

The  Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, will head a  mission to the  US to promote trade and tourism opportunities in our third largest export and visitor market, saying this is part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19.

Ardern  is  certain  to  attract  international  attention   with  her  scheduled commencement address at the 371st Harvard University Commencement ceremony.

But the  more  crucial engagement will  be  at  the  White  House for  talks  with  President Biden,  who is now in Asia. Continue reading “Here’s hoping Ardern gets to meet Biden during US trade visit – and O’Connor finds time to check out gene-editing benefits”

Buzz from the Beehive: Aussie PM is congratulated, US trade mission is announced, and a quintet gives war criminals cause to quaver

The country’s international relationships have loomed large in Beehive announcements since Friday.

One press statement – from the PM – congratulated Anthony Albanese and the Australian Labor Party on winning the Australian Federal election.  Jacinda Ardern said:

“Australia is our most important partner, our only official ally and single economic market relationship, and I believe our countries will work even more closely together in these tumultuous times.”

Ardern hopes to meet Albanese “in the near future” and looks forward to working with him on a range of issues including supporting New Zealanders living in Australia, making trans-Tasman business even easier, deepening our partnership with our close friends in the Pacific, and advancing our interests on the world stage.

A statement this morning announced the PM will lead a trade mission to the United States this week to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Aussie PM is congratulated, US trade mission is announced, and a quintet gives war criminals cause to quaver”

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”

While we fret about Covid, we risk forgetting about the Ukraine – but the PM has popped up to let Russia know we are watching …

Prime  Minister Jacinda Ardern has  at  last  broken  her silence  on  the tension that  has developed  over  the imminent  invasion of  the Ukraine  by Russia.

According to RNZ, she has shared concerns with the EU about the situation and said there was a need to reinforce the sovereignty of Ukraine.

She told the President of the EU Council last night that the New Zealand Government would be watching closely and take any steps required to keep calling for de-escalation.

While there was no autonomous sanctions regime, Ardern said the government had other measures it would use if it saw any activity in breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The risk of armed conflict in Eastern Europe reached a dangerous level on Tuesday, as the United States placed 8500 soldiers on “heightened preparedness” for deployment. The Pentagon said it was clear Russia had “no intention” of backing down from its aggression – an apparent plan to invade Ukraine.

That  day Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta  said New Zealand was deeply concerned about “the continuing and unprecedented build-up of Russian military forces on its border with Ukraine”.

Then Ardern called on Russia to reduce the “risk of a severe miscalculation”.  NZ could retaliate “if we see any breach of what we believe is the Ukraine’s  sovereignty”. Continue reading “While we fret about Covid, we risk forgetting about the Ukraine – but the PM has popped up to let Russia know we are watching …”

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”

Ardern and Biden keen to work together as US restores its relationships with world agencies

PM Jacinda Ardern’s cordial exchange with President-elect Joe Biden went far better than anyone dared hope. Both sides were pleased. As one US official said, they are certainly kindred spirits.

Biden wants to “reinvigorate” the US-NZ relationship which, considering the heights it reached under former Foreign Minister Winston Peters, means Wellington and Washington DC have finally put away any lingering resentments from the 1980s and the Anzus crisis.

Biden is keen to work with NZ on broad Pacific issues but, as he points out, the US will have to work with friends on the task.  When everyone circumspectly refers to “issues”, they really mean China with its diplomatic, economic and military ambitions in the Pacific.

Biden and his new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken (a foreign policy veteran), want to try and reset the US-China relationship.

This week Australian PM Scott Morrison urged Washington and Beijing to “show more latitude” to smaller nations. Partners and allies needed “a bit more room to move” as strategic competition intensifies in the region. Continue reading “Ardern and Biden keen to work together as US restores its relationships with world agencies”

Regard for the USA has slipped among its global friends on Trump’s watch

The USA’s reputation among allies and partner countries has declined seriously, according to a poll by the US Pew Research Centre.   Gauging attitudes in 13 countries, Pew reports the share of the public with a favourable view of the United States is as low as at any time it has been polling the topic in nearly 20 years. 

In Britain, only 41% have a favourable view.  In France it is 31% and 26% in Germany. Japan registers 41%, Canada 35% and only 33% in Australia.

Pew says part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the US has handled the coronavirus pandemic.  Of the 13 nations surveyed, a median of only 15% say Washington DC has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak.

Most say the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis. Continue reading “Regard for the USA has slipped among its global friends on Trump’s watch”

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”

China bypasses the govt in Canberra to engage in an infrastructural flirtation with Victoria

Our good friends from Beijing are at it again.  China has done a deal with the state of Victoria under its “Belt and Road” project.

Infrastructure and other projects are under consideration.  This has fired up the Australian Federal government —  and the United States.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, hardly China’s closest friend in the US administration, has promised action against Canberra should telecommunications become involved.

The US and several western countries have blocked the Chinese telco manufacturer Huawei from involvement in 5G developments for government agencies, notably Defence.

NZ has taken the same approach following detailed examination by the GCSB.  The problem stems from a Chinese 2017 law which requires companies to liaise with the many Chinese intelligence agencies and share any information gathered.

What concerns the US and Australia – and is being monitored from Wellington – are the Chinese tactics.  Beijing went direct, it didn’t work through the Commonwealth Government. 

We have been here before. Continue reading “China bypasses the govt in Canberra to engage in an infrastructural flirtation with Victoria”