Nation: David Parker on trade, APEC and globalisation

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker: Inclusive Trade Action Group meets in Port Moresby

New Zealand, Chile and Canada today reaffirmed a commitment to work together to advance trade that benefits all their citizens.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker joined Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero and Canadian Deputy Minister for International Trade Tim Sargent at a meeting of the Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG) during APEC Leaders’ Week in Papua New Guinea.

Trade is crucial to our economies but so is ensuring that the benefits that come from trade are shared by all,” David Parker said.

“The New Zealand Government’s Trade for All agenda ensures that our trade policy delivers for all New Zealanders.

“The meeting of ITAG members recommitted us to this goal and set out some specific objectives to advance inclusive trade in 2019, including building support among our CPTPP partners, and in the WTO and APEC.”

It follows the three countries’ Joint Declaration on Fostering Progressive and Inclusive Trade issued at the signing of the CPTPP in March this year.


Parker pushing for more trade with better social equity

One of the Government’s most notable achievements so far has been helping the eleven country Trans-Pacific Partnership (now CPTPP) to a final agreement, despite not being on Labour’s Taking action in our first 100 days list (that isn’t surprising because Labour had made a big deal and political capital by opposing it, albeit on limited grounds). It is expected that the final agreement will be signed in Chile on 8 March.

The quiet achiever here has been Minister of Trade David Parker, but credit also has to go to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for giving Parker the trade portfolio, and for the Labour dominated caucus for presumably supporting Parker’s trade agreement aims.

Parker’s full job description is Minister for Economic Development, Environment, and Trade and Export Growth, as well as Attorney General and Associate Minister of Finance.

Parker is also busy working on other improvements to trade access for New Zealand.

Newshub: Need to build support for free trade seen

New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker is pushing a message of inclusiveness in a bid to build public support for freer trade after meeting APEC business leaders.

The APEC Business Advisory Council is holding its first meeting of the year in Auckland, which concludes on Sunday.

The council is the voice of business in APEC. In their annual report to APEC leaders, released Sunday, members called on leaders to show leadership on further liberalisation of trade in goods and services as well as investment flows.

When Mr Parker engaged with the APEC business leaders on Friday, he underscored the need for business to help re-build public consensus for trade, which has eroded around the world.

Ironically public consensus for trade had looked to be somewhat eroded when there were large protests against the TPP in 2016, and Labour, NZ First and the Greens were all in support of the opposition (Labour MPs took part in protests).

Mr Parker called for emphasis on labour, small business, women and the environment.

Mr Parker said many people had felt left out by globalisation and were worried about a concentration in wealth.

These concerned had to be recognised and addressed, he said.

While Parker is pushing for further liberalisation of trade he is adding wider social considerations. This is one of the aims of the Ardern government. They are pragmatically working on trade agreements, but trying to take on more of a social conscience.

This likely to be fine with the many, but a few will remain opposed to more free trade and globalisation.

The current Government’s approach is an evolution of the trade and social direction of the past Clark and Key/English governments.

Parker is Labour’s most experienced minister, and so far looks to be their star performer.

His approach may dismay some on the hard left, but already with a left-wing government they have nowhere else to go. The Greens may continue to resist trade agreements, but Labour is very close to National on trade so should be able to progress on trade matters with a super majority.

Rather than throwing out ‘neo-liberalism’ and starting fresh as some left wing activists want, something untested and very risky (economically and socially), Parker and the Labour government are taking a safe and sensible approach, working on improving on the trade, financial and social direction New Zealand has been going in.

Ardern on foreign policy and trade

After her first international trip after becoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in  report from Newsroom – Ardern adjusts to life at the top – Sam Sachdeva reports on her vision on foreign policy and her aims on trade.

Leading on climate change and nuclear-free

The summits were a chance not only to meet world leaders, but for Ardern to articulate her vision for New Zealand’s foreign policy.

She admitted to having big shoes to fill, with her discussions making clear the respect held for our country on the world stage.

“I’ve always known that to be true, but to see it enforced in these forums…is a real testament to the work that’s been done before, and the work all year round that our representatives do.”

During the election campaign, Ardern described climate change as “the nuclear-free movement of our generation”, providing a hint of how she wants to mix the old with the new in New Zealand’s advocacy.

“We have been strong advocates on issues like nuclear non-proliferation and that is as relevant now as it’s ever been, particularly when it comes to the Korean peninsula, and so playing a role in being consistent advocates, particularly from a position of always taking a really principled stance I think is important.”

At her speech to the Apec CEO’s Summit, Ardern spoke about climate change “lapping at our feet” in the Asia-Pacific, and she said it was an area where New Zealand could speak up for others who could be the worst affected.

“I wasn’t the only one [talking about climate change], but there weren’t many of us, and I do think it’s an issue that needs consistent advocacy because in some of those forums there’s an absence of the groups that are directly affected, but the overall Asia-Pacific will feel its impact hugely and yet have some of the most deprived populations in the world as well.”

In a speech during the election campaign Ardern referred to climate change: “This is my generation’s nuclear-free moment, and I am determined that we will tackle it head on.”

Globalising trade and rights

Under John Key and Bill English, New Zealand was an ardent supporter of free trade and globalisation.

While Ardern did sign off on what is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), there are signs that she may pursue a more nuanced approach to the benefits of trade.

“We absolutely, absolutely support free trade, but alongside that we’ve got the opportunity now within our trade agenda to say alongside supporting free trade, we have the ability to try to create some architecture that means that we also start globalising rights as well.”

That meant ensuring trade ageements didn’t “simply have trade chase or flow into the country with the lowest labour standards and the lowest wages”.

With social inclusion one of the points of focus at Apec, Ardern said her government was not alone in plotting a new approach.

“What’s clear is that we have started hitting those road blocks where non-tariff barriers and protectionism still exists, and some of the rationale for that is there has been a pushback on trade agendas that haven’t filtered down into prosperity.

“Actually if we really want to sell the benefits of trade, we have to make sure people start feeling the benefits of trade as well, and that’s the next challenge.”

That means more than paying lip service to a new narrative, as Ardern notes: “We can’t just claim that we’re telling the story that hasn’t been told before.”

She points to CPTPP provisions that will allow countries to enforce labour standards – a first for a trade agreement – as a sign of what is possible.

“Basic as they may be, that’s a starting point, and when you start hearing negotiators from countries advocating for their use, because it’s enabled them to start enforcing standards on multinationals operating in their country, where they haven’t successfully been able to pass domestic legislation, then you start seeing the tools that we have in this wider agenda.”

While climate change will be an ongoing test of Ardern’s tenure as Prime Minister the CPTPP is an early test of both Ardern and Labour’s trade aims and priorities, and it is also likely to be a test of Labour’s relationshiip with partners in Government, NZ First and particularly the Greens.

Ardern rises to APEC test

Three and a half months ago Jacinda Ardern was going down badly in the polls with Labour led by Andrew Little.

In rapid succession she has taken over the Labour leadership, lifted Labour to a creditable election result, negotiated her way into becoming New Zealand’s Prime Minister, and has just mingled with world leaders at the APEC summit in Vietnam.

Ardern has risen to each occasion.

Vernon Small:  Jacinda Ardern passes Apec summit test

“Oh, there’s Vladimir Putin over there,” was how she put it in a nutshell when chatting to the media, and showing off the Apec leaders’ “silly shirt”.

As an aside, she has been super-accessible to the media on the visit to Vietnam for Apec.

The wheels were barely up on the Air Force plane leaving Wellington before she was wandering down the back to the cheap seats to have one-on-one chats with reporters.

It brought back memories of John Key at his most media friendly and was also a reminder of Key’s last Apec summit, in Peru, when he disappeared behind the first class curtain and stayed there. It was only days before he stepped down and was a signal we all missed at the time.

Good leaders maintain good rapports with journalists. They need each other for success.

Was the summit itself a success for Ardern?

Well, she had the photo-op handshake with Donald Trump and it was, she said,  “standard”.

That was the only contact she had with Trump, probably wise at this stage.

Now for Ardern, she’s off to the East Asia Summit, which kicks off in Manila on Monday.

There the focus will shift to geopolitics from trade (though the unexciting RCEP trade deal is on the agenda).

Ardern’s next test is whether she and Foreign Minister Winston Peters can make the nuanced calls and walk the narrow path between the interests of China, the US and the other regional nations – especially over the South China Sea and North Korea – successfully trod by National in recent years.

This is a big step up from traipsing around New Zealand trying to bolster Little’s flagging campaign.

And it’s a step that Ardern has so far managed very well.

TPP-11 “down to the wire”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now in Vietnam where Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are “down to the wire”,  reported to be near agreement but held up at the last minute by one country (not New Zealand).

RNZ earlier today: Ardern: TPP talks down to the wire

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived at the APEC summit saying talks to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership are “down to the wire”.

Trade ministers of the 11 countries involved, including New Zealand’s David Parker, have been meeting on the sidelines of Apec at Danang in Vietnam.

New Zealand wants to drop the provisions on foreign corporations suing governments using overseas tribunals, but Ms Ardern admitted it had been tough going convincing others.

“I don’t want to predict what way it will go. There are a number of issues still on the table. Not all of them are ours.

“We are pursuing our interests but other countries certainly have their issues they continue to pursue. We of course are continuing to focus on both trying to balance our exporters’ needs but also our country’s.”

Ms Ardern doubted a TPP deal could be be done if if there was no agreement today.

But after apparently getting close to agreement there has been a setback. RNZ: ‘It’s not New Zealand holding up the consensus’ – Parker

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been put at peril by one country after leaders came achingly close to striking a deal last night.

Officials are now scrambling to revive the stalled trade pact after a series of meetings in Vietnam.

Mr Parker said Labour had got “some of what we wanted” and the issue had been “improved but not completely resolved”.

“We’ve made it clear that for the future we’re not on for [investor-state dispute settlement] clauses.”

Government leaders will resume their talks this evening New Zealand time.

Speaking in Danang, Trade Minister David Parker said ministers thought a deal had been struck when their meeting finished about 10pm on Thursday night.

But in a “somewhat surprising” development, once it was passed on to officials, it emerged one country was still holding out.

“There was celebratory clapping and back-slapping,” Mr Parker said.

“It was then turned over by ministers to officials … and one of the parties said that they had not reached agreement.”

Mr Parker would not name the country responsible, but denied it was either New Zealand or Canada.

“It’s not New Zealand holding up the consensus. We reached agreement.”

Talks will resume this evening (NZ time) to try and get the agreement over the line,

Ardern on the TPP

One of the first big tests for the incoming Jacinda Ardern led government will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which is in the final stages of renegotiation after Donald Trump withdrew the United States, and will need to be addressed at the APEC conference next month.

Ardern has indicated Labour may accept the 11 country trade agreement as long as there were tweaks limiting foreign purchases of property.

Stuff:  Jacinda Ardern: Changes to trade deals possible – walking away from TPP ‘not necessary’

Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern faces a tough sell to impose last minute changes on a free trade agreement between the 11 Pacific Rim countries, as they set to close the deal next month.

Ardern has confirmed she will be heading to Vietnam in November for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders forum.

It’s her first big test on the international stage where Jacinda Ardern will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of US President Donald Trump, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Recent reports have also suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin will be attending.

No less, her yet-to-be-appointed Trade Minister is expected to chair a sideline meeting in the dying throes of negotiations to reach a deal on the TPP11, and Ardern expects to change tack on negotiations and push for a ban on foreign property speculators.

David Parker was Labour’s spokesperson for Trade & Export Growth, and is one of the few incoming ministers with previous experience in Cabinet.

Labour will need someone with experience to dive straight into this important issue.

Leaders involved were hoping to sign the new agreement on the sidelines of APEC,  which meant a tight timeline for trade officials to gain concessions while working to hold ground in other areas.

Ardern She told TVNZ’s current affairs show Q+A she was confident a Labour government policy to ban foreign ownership would not force her to walk from the deal.

From the Q+A interview transcript:

CORIN So you want those things. Do you want, I guess, the tag that can come with it — that sort of Brexit, nationalist sort of tag that can come with that? The idea that we’re suddenly not outward-looking so much.

JACINDA I think probably that sentiment builds up not just around economic markers. In fact, we are a party that believes, for instance, on the important role of trade. We are a free and fair trade party. We are not closed-minded in the role that we have to play in the world.

CORIN But you’re putting in a foreign buyers ban.

JACINDA Yeah, but that’s because we have an absolute failure in our housing market and we’re willing to make sure that we act to preserve the right of anyone who chooses to make New Zealand home to buy a home here. But if I can just finish. That sense of whether or not we’re a closed-off country who isn’t open to the world, I would absolutely refute. New Zealand has always marked out is path as an independent foreign-policy voice but also a world leader. I want us to be seen to be open to ideas but a world leader in areas like the environment and climate change – not closed-minded but outward-facing but looking after our interests.

CORIN You might refute it, but the message that’s sent to investors and to the globe might be that New Zealand is looking more inward and more worried about banning foreigners from buying homes.

JACINDA Well, given that, actually, most of our trading nations who’ve recently signed free trade agreements have done exactly the same thing. I doubt they–

CORIN But we don’t have the same luxury as them.

JACINDA I doubt they look upon us as doing anything they wouldn’t consider doing for themselves.

CORIN We’re $200 billion in debt to the world.

JACINDA We don’t have the luxury of making sure that housing is affordable? We do. We are a prosperous nation. If you can’t get the most basic thing right as ensuring your people are housed in affordable, dry homes, then I don’t know what kind of country we can promise to be to anyone.

CORIN So is that a higher priority than securing a trade deal involving Japan, the world’s third-largest economy? 

JACINDA I refuse to accept they’re mutually exclusive.

CORIN Would you walk away from the TPP, involving Japan, over that issue?

JACINDA Again, that’s not necessary. Our view is that it will be possible to balance our desire to make sure that we provide housing within our domestic housing market that’s affordable by easing demand and banning foreign speculators from buying existing homes, whilst meeting our trade goals as well.

CORIN Have you considered other mechanisms that would do the same thing?

JACINDA Look, we’ll be looking to ways that we can balance that desire to ban foreign speculators. Whichever mechanism we use to deliver it, that is our goal.

CORIN Is your coalition partner comfortable with progressing the TPP?

JACINDA Look, we all see the need to grow exports for us to see extra value gained for our exporters. That is a consensus amongst us. There are concerns with things like ISDS clauses. That’s something that we will continue to work through.

CORIN Well, first of all, are you going to go to APEC?


CORIN Do you think you can go there and convince the other parties to renegotiate this deal? I mean, you’re under a lot of time pressure, because they’ve actually been working on this right up to the last minute. They want a deal signed, don’t they? And you’ve got to go there and try and convince them to hold off.

JACINDA My job is to go there and convince them to sign to an agreement that will be in our best interests as well. I’m not going to set out on this task, already having decided it’s too hard.

CORIN You don’t feel the pressure of some big players on the world stage that will be wanting you to sign that?

JACINDA Look, I’ve operated in an international environment, albeit a slightly different one, before. I’m used to different forms of negotiation in that kind of environment. Absolutely everyone brings their own interests to the table; that’s what a negotiation is. That’s what we’ve just had for the last 10 days. But my job will be to advocate on behalf of New Zealanders – both homeowners, potential homebuyers and exporters.

Where’s the flag?

A photo of John Key at APEC in China (via Key’s Twitter: A quick breakfast with some of the New Zealand CEOs and our youth delegation who are also here for APEC.”):


Easily and distinctively recognisable as New Zealand.

John Armstrong versus parasitical bloggers

John Armstrong, NZ herald political reporter, blasts two bloggers as a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salon. He is aiming at:

  • “former Listener columnist and Greens propagandist Gordon Campbell”
  • “former Alliance staffer and now Otago University politics lecturer Bryce Edwards”

In his Saturday column Blogging parasites don’t let the facts get in the way Armstrong says:

In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week – that the media who went with John Key to Vladivostok and Tokyo concentrated on trivia, interviewed their laptops and parroted Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet press releases.

Press gallery journalists generally treat the bile and invective directed at them by portions of the blog-a-tariat as an unwelcome and unfortunate byproduct of an otherwise exciting and intellectually challenging job.

You just have to put up with it. To bother to reply is to invite another shower of criticism – plus the old chestnut that if you cannot stand the heat then get out of the kitchen.

Polemic and argument over ideas is one thing; ignorance is something else, however.

He continues with some explanations of the realities of reporting an event like APEC in Vladivostock, and keeps getting a few things off his chest.

Does it occur to them to actually pick up the phone and try to talk to those journalists about what is happening and why things are being reported in a certain way?

Of course not. That would risk the facts getting in the way of, well … interviewing their laptops and having yet another ritual poke at the parliamentary press gallery.

The rules that apply to journalists in terms of accuracy do not apply to Campbell and his echo chamber Dr Edwards – who is not be confused with Dr Brian Edwards, another blogger, but a far more original one when it comes to ideas and analysis.

And it seems that the TPP was and is the main point of contention.

Edwards’ and Campbell’s claim that there was precious little analysis of key Apec issues, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is simply not borne out.

Everybody knew and said the TPP would not be a big deal as Barak Obama, the figure crucial to building political momentum to achieve a final deal, was absent.

TPP is sure important within the wider context of Apec. But it was not a major feature of this year’s meeting.

Or is it Campbell’s and Edwards’ agenda or strategy to make the media feel guilty about not writing more anti-TPP stories?

Campbell is let of the hook a little.

To Campbell’s credit, he does do his own digging. He is also a regular attendee at the Prime Minister’s weekly press conference. His blog is one of the more valuable. But he does have a blind spot with regards to the press gallery.

And saves his main blast for Edwards.

The rapidly growing influence of Edwards’ blog was initially down to its being an exhaustive wrap-up of all of the day’s political news. It is now starting to develop a much more political dynamic that is unlikely to please National.

Edwards’ blog is the extreme example of the fact that most blogsites rely on the mainstream media for their information and then use that information to criticise the media for not stressing something enough or deliberately hiding it.

And the real beef:

It is the ultimate parasitical relationship. And it will not change until the media start charging for use of their material.

Edwards political round can be a useful collection of political news and comment from MSM and blogs, but if it becomes a vehicle for political comment from a particular viewpoint it becomes a different beast.

There’s no doubt that online news and comment, including on blogs, is damaging MSM, who have real difficulty in adapting to the proliferation of media and getting enough income. If they charge for online content they risk their audience simply ignoring them and going somewhere else that’s still free.

And yes, there is a degree of the parasitical. But it’s more complicated than that – blogs can also direct readers to MSM websites with their links, so to an extent they can be mutual parasites.

If blogs use MSM content what could they be charged?
And would MSM pay for traffic generated by blogs in return?

I understand the frustrations but I don’t think there’s easy answers.

We are all learning how new media works as we go, in a rapidly evolving environment.