NZ must stand up to Trump

The Herald reports: Quote:

It’s time for Winston Peters and David Parker to call out the United States’ move to ramp up its trade war with China.

But this country should not sit meekly on the sidelines while the international order is disrupted.

Foreign Minister Peters, Trade Minister Parker, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, and of course Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have stood New Zealand’s ground in private fora.

Notably, Peters and Ardern have also, in several pivotal foreign affairs speeches this year, staked considerable ground as they spelt out what their recasting of NZ’s foreign policy as “values-based” actually means in practice. End quote.

When Donald Trump won the election in 2016 he had made it clear that he was going to take the USA back to its somewhat isolationist policies of decades ago. He was responding to his own voters, who felt disenfranchised by a reduction of tariffs and the exporting of many industries to developing countries. It was never going to play out well for the rest of the world. Quote:

This week, the White House said it would assess 10 per cent tariffs on a further $US200 billion ($293b) in Chinese goods. If imposed this would deepen the trade war with Beijing. As the Wall Street Journal noted it would also send a message to other trading partners that “the US won’t back away from trade fights”.

Beijing’s response — which has been mirrored in the tone of an article written by Chinese Ambassador Wu Xi for the Herald — drew on a Western proverb (“like a bull in a China shop”) and accused the US of “undermining the process of globalisation and the international trade order”. End quote.

Which is precisely what he is trying to do. Trying to protect his own farmers and producers. Just like he said he would. Quote:

But in a domestic environment where the NZ Government has not shied away from “speaking truth to power”, when it comes to Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, it is important the Government also turns its Beehive microphone on and restates what is at risk for the international trading system and New Zealand’s own future in these unpredictable times.

This does not need to take a hectoring tone. End quote.

A hectoring tone? It would be more like the sound of a gnat biting on an ankle. Sorry, Fran. Quote:

But a formal statement would not go unnoticed.

After all, Defence Minister Ron Mark’s commentary — which riled Beijing — was basically a statement of fact. Mark’s comments were not aggressive.

The time when New Zealand lived in a benign strategic environment has long passed. When it comes to the South China Sea, both former National Foreign Minister and former

National Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has made similar criticisms to Beijing both privately and publicly. And when it comes to landing diplomatic punches, Mark’s comments — while direct — were a relatively soft blow. End quote.

Fran seems to have wandered off topic somewhat, having moved from trade wars to criticising China over its moves in the Pacific and the South China Sea. But, if we go back to the trade war, I have a few simple comments to make.

A trade war between the USA and China might benefit New Zealand, in that it might increase our trade with China

The question of trade between China and the USA is basically too big for either party to lose. They’ll work out a deal, after quite a bit of sabre rattling.

We are still waiting to hear back from the USA as to whether or not we will get a dispensation over steel tariffs. Right now, it doesn’t look good, partly because Jacinda insulted Trump at the APEC summit last November. Judging by that, I wouldn’t get too excited thinking that Trump will soften his stance towards tariffs because we ask him to. Even if we ask nicely.

I really do not know why Fran thinks we have sufficient influence over President Trump, or any influence at all, for anything we say to make a difference. It is worth remembering that, if we are going to recast our foreign policy as ‘values based’, we can’t have it both ways. Quote:

They have to weigh the risk of “overdoing it and being shut out” as one Cabinet Minister told me. End quote.

Looks like they may have already overdone it. I don’t think President Trump is listening.

 


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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