• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Prime ministers meet in Queenstown after Ardern’s government confirms it will join Australian trade dispute with China as third party

May 30, 2021

New ZealandPrime ministers meet in Queenstown after Arderns government confirms it will join Australian trade dispute with China as third party
The New Zealand and Australian prime ministers, Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison, have met in Queenstown on Sunday, their first talks in person since Covid-19 closed borders in 2020.
In the first public remarks of the two-day talks, Ardern said she looked forward to the next stage of writing the rulebook on how both countries would approach reopening to the world after Covid.
The path that New Zealand and Australia carved at that time is unique and it continues to be unique, Ardern said. That, however, means there is no rulebook for us, and one of the things Im looking forward to over the next day of talks is that next stage of writing the rulebook.
Ardern also took a moment to acknowledge that the two nations did not always see eye to eye. As two sovereign nations, we wont see always see every issue in the same way well often see and do things differently and not just on the cricket pitch, Ardern said a reference to an Australian underarm bowl, which remains a sore point among New Zealand sports fans.
But in this increasingly complex geo-strategic environment, family is incredibly important, and Australia, you are family.
Morrison emphasised the two countries shared prosperity. Thats what the closer economic relationship has always been about, he said. Its about a shared prosperity realised through what weve been able to achieve both through Covid, and now opening up, and lets just see how much further that can go.
The Australian PM urged against complacency and said both human biosecurity and animal biosecurity would be on the table for the talks. The one thing we do know is that its not over yet.
Other issues, including the rise of China and trade relationships, loom in the background of the talks.
Over the past year, the tans-Tasman relationship has been strained by conflict over Australias 501 deportation policy and differing approaches to China.
Earlier on Sunday, Morrison was asked by reporters whether New Zealands soft approach to China and a splintering relationship had prompted the talks. No, he said. We meet every year and we work through the issues that are part of that very successful partnership this is another opportunity to reinforce our commitment to the security interests of the region, the security interests of our bilateral partnership, and to advance our economic cooperation for our mutual prosperity, he said.
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On Sunday afternoon, Morrison was greeted by a powhiri a traditional Mori ceremony, which included a New Zealand representative singing Waltzing Matilda in Mori. Formal talks between the two prime ministers will begin on Monday.
On Saturday, the New Zealand government confirmed that it would become a third party to a trade dispute between Australia and China on barley tariffs.
In May 2020, China placed punitive 80% tariffs on barley imports from Australia after the government in Canberra publicly backed the call for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus. In December, Australia took its case against China to the WTO.
The New Zealand trade minister, Damien OConnor, confirmed that New Zealand would be joining the dispute as a third party a step it routinely takes when it has commercial or legal interests connected to a dispute.
In a televised interview on Saturday morning, he said the international rules-based trading system was the only way a small trading nation like New Zealand can ensure a fair and level playing field.
OConnor said: New Zealand was not asked to join as a third party, however we have been a third party in over 60 WTO cases since 1995 and its not unusual for us to join actions, disputes when we see challenges to international trade rules.
The move comes as Australia has become embroiled in a deepening trade war with China a conflict that New Zealand has been watching closely from the sidelines. Like Australia it is highly dependent on China for trade, and the New Zealand foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta has recently called on exporters to diversify so they could survive a storm of anger from Beijing.
We cannot ignore, obviously, whats happening in Australia with their relationship with China. And if they are close to an eye of the storm or in the eye of the storm, weve got to legitimately ask ourselves it may only be a matter of time before the storm gets closer to us, she told the Guardian in an interview in May.
The signal Im sending to exporters is that they need to think about diversification in this context and the buffering aspects of if something significant happened with China. Would they be able to withstand the impact? she asked.
China accounts for nearly 30% of New Zealand exports more than its next three largest trading partners combined.
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