fbpx
Print this page
Tuesday, 17 November 2020 09:55

A minister for Europe?

Written by  Peter Burke
Trade commentator Mike Petersen says PM Jacinda Ardern should consider basing one of her senior in Europe to strengthen New Zealand's efforts to negotiate FTAs with both the EU and the UK. Trade commentator Mike Petersen says PM Jacinda Ardern should consider basing one of her senior in Europe to strengthen New Zealand's efforts to negotiate FTAs with both the EU and the UK.

Jacinda Ardern should consider basing one of her senior cabinet ministers in Europe by early next year, says trade commentator Mike Petersen.

He says this will strengthen New Zealand’s efforts to negotiate FTAs with both the EU and the UK.

Petersen says, because of Covid, the ability of NZ politicians, farming and industry leaders to personally get alongside their overseas counterparts has virtually stopped. Trade Minister Damien O’Connor acknowledged this in a separate interview with Rural News and noted that he would be spending hours on Zoom trying to do what he’d normally do in person.

Petersen believes the going is tough for NZ in its negotiations with the UK and EU, both with Covid and the political upheaval in the United States. He says there isn’t an ability to engage personally with people and this is made harder because there are now new faces on the political scene in the EU.

Petersen says the biggest problem NZ has is the inability to travel.

“This is very frustrating for us and I am seeing our counterpart organisations off-shore loving the fact that we can’t go up there and tout our credentials and counter some of the myths that are being spread when it comes to NZ,” he told Rural News.

“That is sadly lacking at the moment. Yes, we have got our embassy people who are being put on to do that work on our behalf. I am not saying I don’t trust them. But nothing beats us having politicians, farmers, our special ag trade envoy Mel Poulton, or the companies going into the market and doing the work themselves,” he adds.

Petersen says the longer the lack of engagement goes on, the more difficult it becomes for NZ. He says it makes sense for a nation that exports 95% of its produce offshore to have a senior minister based in Europe to put the NZ case at a political level.

There is a precedent for the proposal. In 1942, the then Prime Minister Peter Fraser appointed his Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Walter Nash as the ambassador to the USA. This move was designed to ensure NZ’s position on the war was communicated first-hand to the US President Franklin D Roosevelt.

Fraser’s view was that NZ’s relationship with the US was so important that it needed a permanent presence of a very senior minister in Washington. Nash served in the role until early 1944.

More like this

Who?

OPINION: The refusal of both Damien O'Connor and PM Jacinda Ardern to release some of the correspondence they received about Groundswell begs a question or two.

Zespri celebrates in style

The contribution of NZ's kiwifruit industry came in for some high praise at a special function at Parliament, just before the latest Covid lockdowns.

Careful

OPINION: A mate of the Hound's reckons the PM needs to be a bit careful about who or what she claims is legitimate or not.

$4m state aid for farmers

The Government has announced it will commit $4 million into relief funding for flood-affected Canterbury farmers.

National

Ice broken on an old problem

Three enterprising Mackenzie College (Fairlie) students may well have come up with the perfect solution to an age-old problem of…

Cruel April Fool's joke!

In an ironic twist, the Government has pushed back the date of its so-called 'ute tax' or feebate scheme to…

Machinery & Products

Keeping everyone safe

As tractors get larger and front linkage kits become more common, many have started fitting underrun or collision protection systems.

Keeping stock and drivers safe

Livestock haulers are a crucial link in the New Zealand agriculture supply chain, transporting stock onto or between farms, to…

Making lamb marking easy

Designed by a sheep and beef farmer, Vetmarkers are made in New Zealand and sold around the world.