Grant Robertson is quids in on the empathy stakes with today’s letter to the party faithful in the absence of our Prime minister’s kindhearted compassion for the downtrodden and downhearted.
EU:NZ Trade Update
I’m circumspect about any immediate analysis of this FTA. First it’s initiation is not a consequence of this government but a matter of changing times.
I’m even more wary of a government that talks up dramatic success rather than the detail and when the timing of its conclusion looks more like partisan convenience than expediency.
It’s not immediately complete as with any FTA it has to complete the required domestic process.
At first glance the two most obvious factors are a separate Treaty Chapter and the gradual implementation of its processes over many years.
That is disguised by mischievous percentages that make comparisons and analysis very difficult if you are not au fait with the current trading situation.
In that respect I can see a long discussion coming which is perhaps what this government wants at this time – much fan fare without any criticism.
This post remains a work in progress.
EU Trade Agreement
We’ve played politics with the New Zealand (NZ EU) European Union, Trade Agreement (TA) since Ardern first became prime minister. It was announced as a done-deal much like high speed rail in Dominion Rd and that just never happened. That is the fake politics we see too often – imagined success.
A TA with the EU would be a win for us at this time with the ever increasing likelihood of diminished trade with an economically hamstrung China. So where are we up to now?
- June 2018: Negotiations formally launched
- July 2018: First round of negotiations, Brussels
- October 2018: Second round of negotiations, Wellington
- February 2019: Third round of negotiations, Brussels
- May 2019: Fourth round of negotiations, Wellington
- July 2019: Fifth round of negotiations, Brussels
- December 2019: Sixth round of negotiations, Wellington
- March-April 2020: Seventh round of negotiations (conducted virtually)
- June 2020: Eighth round of negotiations (conducted virtually)
- November 2020: Ninth round of negotiations (conducted virtually)
- March 2021: Tenth round of negotiations (conducted virtually)
- June-July 2021: Eleventh round of negotiations (conducted virtually)
MFAT had been hard at work up until a year ago, before NZ headed into weeks of lockdown, and it’s still not a done deal. As we know from the US non-trade agreement as a result of our departure from ANZUS there are strings attached to these agreements – what, in this case is not currently for us minions to know.
Even if we do manage the hoop jumping and get our piece of paper, there is still a long process within our domestic politics.
Once an agreement is reached, it will be released for public scrutiny, as will a ‘National Interest Assessment’.
The agreement will also undergo parliamentary treaty examination, be ratified by Government and ultimately enter into force.
The politics is claiming the hard work by our trade negotiators. Whereas the success and failure is what we may or may not have agreed to behind closed doors.
With distrust running so high in our self-indulgent leader some people may be of the opinion that if it didn’t happen until after the next election all the better.
How much trust foreign leaders place in Ardern must be at least as questionable as our own.
Imperative, is an interesting word when it comes to politics, as it not only embodies an element of authority, but also what politicians consider the authoritative command. In the past we have trusted and accepted political direction more readily and New Zealanders are generally regarded as passive by nature and not inclined to rebel.
What we are currently seeing is a greater distance between politicians and the electorate driven by the left and right divide. Only one side can win this war, but within this political theatre there are multiple battles which hold fast to their own imperatives.
A well canvased example of this in New Zealand politics is immigration, although immigration tends to be seen strictly as a yes or no, needed or not needed, equation where politicians rely on specific prejudices to encourage their voting blocks.
If we look at the economic imperative, with regard to immigration, we find a non-emotive approach around the supply and demand of labour and the cost of labour, and the consequential impact on economic activity. This is where the conflict starts with what we might label the right-wing approach, although equally at odds with the country’s descendant population.
Looking at the imperative ideology of the left-wing, we currently see a download of the fundamental European dogma that has caused them so much disruption;
Although countries still exist in name within Europe, alongside the borderless structure of the EU, the borderless ideology demands …
– the free movement of labour
– the universal acceptance of qualifications regardless of origin
– that migrant workers should not be discriminated against by a preference towards that country’s native workforce.
This is the situation we are now facing from the Open-Borders Pact, the greatest irony of course, is that it was Winston Peters as Foreign Minister who signed us up to this, on behalf of the Coalition.
Now, I would suggest the imperative sits with the voters (does the patriotic imperative live or die) and should they take hold of the expression of what is important to NZ? Understanding this is something the major political parties fear, having to qualify their position more specifically with regard to immigration.
Will the left-wing rhetoric conflict with their ideology during the election campaign? Will the right-wing ideology stick to economic arguments because it doesn’t want to discuss the ‘morality and obligations’ commerce should uphold in training the next generation? (The learn on the job culture has historically been one of genuine interest, not one of a consequence of the job I got today, because I was the cheapest option)
While National and Labour try to steer away from a more difinitive conversation, how well these arguments are canvased will be determined by new parties such as TOP and particularly New Conservative who are making a significant appearance in current media.
The Quantitative Easing Legacy
When the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) struck, it was essentially a US domestic issue unfortunately big enough to impact the world economy. As such, then US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke led the way out of the crisis with what some would argue was unconventional monetary policy while others hailed it the brave new formula. It was Quantitative Easing (QE).
QE in an historical perspective and by way of a simple explanation is the flip side of the way the economic world handled the great depression. Whether it is or is not a better strategy can never be answered because it wasn’t a global agreement; the world went in different directions.
Minimum Wage is No Answer
When I see minimum wage defined in terms of supply and demand I cringe – shame on economists, politicians and anyone who tries to convince us minions that there is some logic and acceptability in this practice.
Minimum wage is a legal protection against exploitation; it should never have been allowed to be made an economic consideration. It is a minimum standard which is not a target for business to aim for as a moral exoneration or a standard of compliance.