Parker and Peters split on water tax

The Minister of Trade and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are split over whether a tax on exported water can be imposed without breaching trade agreements.

NZH:  Winston Peters and David Parker at odds over whether export tax breaches trade deals

Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker appear at odds over the legal position of the planned royalty on water exports.

Peters plans to ignore the advice of top officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and will introduce the royalty which was promised in the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement.

He said the view of Mfat deputy secretary and chief TPP negotiator that it breaches New Zealand’s trade deals was “an opinion.”

“We are a sovereign nation and you are seeing a restoration of our sovereignty.”

Peters said it was not a foreign policy matter: “It is to do with our domestic economy and who runs our economy and who has propriety over our resources.”

Vangelis Vitalis, Foreign Affairs deputy secretary for the trade and economic group, said today that such payments would breach existing trade agreement.

But Parker backed Vitalis. He told reporters export taxes were prohibited by all of New Zealand’s trade agreements “so we have got to find a remedy that is consistent with those obligations.”

He said he had always known that discriminatory measures that impose tax only on exports would be in breach of virtually every trade agreement we’ve got.”

Labour had campaigned on a non-distortionary price on water including on exports.

“There is more than one way for us to meet our ambition. If we were to have a distortionary tax on the export of water, that would breach our trade agreements.”

The Labour-NZ First coalition agreement simply said:

Introduce royalty on exports of bottled water.

Some interesting differences here, between an election promise and coalition agreement and what is actually allowed under existing international agreements – making promises without doing basic checks first – and also between Parker and Peters.

Not very popular

Queen Elizabeth’s record reign has received some media coverage here, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly popular. Current ‘most popular’ news on New Zealand sites:

NZ Herald:

HeraldMostPopular

Stuff:

StuffMostPopularTVNZ:

TVNZMostPopular

3 News:

3NewsOthersWatching

Radio NZ:

RNZPopularGoogle’s current NZ news:

GoogleNZNews

Royalty doesn’t rate at all.

I’ve had a quick look at UK news sitesThe BBC has a semi prominent item, the Guardian a minor mention. Go to The Telegraph if you want major coverage.

TelegraphQueen

Royalties on use of air would be deserved

I’m quite happy for Maori to claim to be paid for the use of their air.

If I use any air, directly or indirectly, that Maori can prove they owned in 1840 I’ll happily pay them a royalty. They deserve something if they can manage that.

Waitangi tribunal to recommend rain guages?

Will the Waitangi tribunal recommend everyone installs rain guages?

It would make rain royalties much easier to measure.