Thursday, 24 June 2021 08:55

All locked up and without a plan to unlock

Written by  Todd Muller
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison have agreed in principle to a free trade deal. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison have agreed in principle to a free trade deal.

OPINION: Australia and the UK have just concluded a free trade deal.

According to multiple news sources, it includes a substantial revamp of visa requirements to make it easier for professionals and young travellers to work and live in both countries, recognises a raft of qualifications, welcomes investment, especially in green technology and phase out tariffs and quotas.

This is a good result for trade liberalisation, but frankly it should have been us.

Both New Zealand and Australia started their negotiations last June, but Australia seemed to want it more. There has been an urgency from Australia that has been lacking with NZ.

Dan Tehan, Australia's Trade Minister, flew to the UK in April to negotiate with his counterpart face to face to ensure Scott Morrison could conclude this deal off the back of his G7 invitation.

Damien O'Connor arrived in London last week to begin his equivalent face to face meetings. He deserves to feel uncomfortable sitting watching the formal announcement of the Australian deal - it's not good enough.

Now the really tough test goes on O'Connor and (Prime Minister Jacinda) Ardern to match if not better the Australian deal.

Our NZ exporters want no constraints in exporting their goods and services to the UK, accepting that there will probably be a transition period of some sort. Our employers want access to significant numbers of UK skilled people to help the recovery of their businesses from Covid-19. Our businesses want UK investment and global perspectives to help fund their growth. Our young people want to travel to the UK and ensure those OE years are a part of their lived experience.

Bi-lateral trade deals are a moment in time for governments to showcase how much they value strengthening integration between two peoples and nations. They are litmus tests on how they see the future.

In Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, with their respective 'I love Australia' and 'Global Britain' mantras express a contagious enthusiasm for what is possible. For them, connecting their countries with each other and the world is critical and Australia and UK appear set on coming out of Covid with a 'go get 'em' attitude creating a pervasive domestic momentum.

New Zealand, by contrast, seems locked in perpetual hand wringing and self-flagellation. We are locked up, seemingly without a plan to unlock; closed to migration of any substance, afraid of foreign investment.

At the very time our Trade Minister should be promoting our agricultural sectors sustainability credentials with gusto, this government holds it up to the light, not to celebrate but to find flaws to critique, regulate and tax.

The Government even frames climate change not as an exciting opportunity to embrace innovation and amplify our strengths, but to close down whole sectors, destock and plant trees.

Worse still is the 'life and death' catastrophizing language used to frame it from the very top.

Bringing this 'hunker down' and defensive attitude to a negotiating table is bad for NZ exporters and I fear it will pervade the UK/NZ FTA deal.

The urgency, the enthusiasm, the passion for NZ exporters needs to be front of centre - starting now!

Todd Muller is National's spokesman on trade and export growth.

More like this

Finally, a deal is here

News that NZ and the UK have agreed 'in principle' to the terms of the free trade agreement (FTA) will come as welcome news to the dairy sector.

NZ seeks support for trade deals

Trade and Export Minister Damien O'Connor says he's had positive discussions with top EU trade politicians and officials on his trip to Europe.

Leaving on a jet plane - again!

Damien O'Connor is planning to head back to Europe again shortly to breathe oxygen into the free trade agreements that New Zealand is negotiating separately with the UK and the EU.

'We want an Aussie-style agreement'

What happens in the next six weeks will be critical for New Zealand to secure a free trade agreement (FTA) with the UK, according to the executive director of the Dairy Companies Association (DCANZ), Kimberly Crewther.

Aussie FTA leaves NZ meat sector envious

New Zealand's meat sector will be hoping to benefit from a yet-to-be-signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that its Australian counterparts are about to enter into with the UK.

National

Elite herd offered online

An elite Southland Friesian herd is set to become the biggest single livestock offering sold online so far.

Lameness data collection snag

Fonterra says its Farm Insights Report sent out to farmers recently doesn’t benchmark lameness on shareholders’ farms.

Chin named LIC CEO

Farmer co-operative LIC has promoted David Chin to the role of chief executive officer.

Synlait trims emissions

Canterbury milk processor Synlait says it has recorded a significant improvement in its operation's greenhouse gas emissions.

Machinery & Products

Gongs for John Deere

The tractor of the Year 2022 Awards, held at the recent EIMA show in Bologna, handed out a brace of…

Digital pre-start safety checks

According to numbers published by ACC, more than 60 farm-related injuries are reported every day, leaving much room for improvement.

JV for Bucket Test App

Irrigation NZ and global farm management company CropX have established a joint venture agreement for the Bucket Test app.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Seaweed saviour

OPINION: Scientists in Ireland are going underwater to solve their dairy sector’s methane conundrum.

Due recognition

OPINION: National's new leader Christopher Luxon’s first speech after his elevation to the top job included one important line about…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter