Dunno what’s happened to Federated Farmers’ thinking on the agreement establishing the ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Area signed yesterday in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Alf is sure he heard the feds president, Don Nicolson, welcoming the deal on a Radio New Zealand news item at noon today – enthusing about it, even.
But a journo mate tells Alf the feds recalled a press statement on the issue last night, and there is no sign of a replacement. The most recent item on their web-site is a response to Jeanette Fitzsimons’ announcement she will be stepping down as co-leader of the Greens.
It also reiterated the feds” intransigence on climate change –
“While Jeanette and the Federation have been at different ends on many issues, we never for one moment doubted her conviction. Being a small block holder herself, Jeanette knew the difference between a bull and a cow and that really helps with your credibility.
“Whoever emerges as the Green Party’s new Co-Leader, they must realise that New Zealand’s farmers are not the enemy but instead, an important part of a global solution to a changing climate.
“Simply put, New Zealand’s farmers act globally by farming locally. What Federated Farmers wishes to talk about is a new deal from the Greens for their view on farmers and farming.”
While the feds are rewording (or whatever) their statement on the ASEAN deal, let’s hear what the hard-working Trade Minister Tim Goser has to say in his media statement –
“This agreement is of considerable economic and strategic importance for New Zealand,” Mr Groser said.
“Significant benefits for New Zealand exporters have been achieved, including the phased elimination of trade barriers, greater certainty and transparency, and reductions in associated transaction costs.
“Over time, 99 per cent of New Zealand’s trade to key ASEAN markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam will be duty free.”
Groser reminds us ASEAN is New Zealand’s third largest export market – growing 121 per cent since 2000 and worth $4.6 billion in 2008.
Globally ASEAN represents a market of more than 566 million people and accounts for more than US$1,400 billion in trade.
The new agreement
will not only provide better market access and more certainty for our businesses in this vital region. It also sends the message that Australia, New Zealand and the members of ASEAN believe that continued regional economic integration, not protectionism, is the best way to bring us through the most serious international economic crisis we have faced since the Great Depression.”
Oh, and Groser is much generous than Dick Worth would have been (on the strength of his telling Goff to fuck off, anyway).
He said the culmination of the AANZFTA underlined the bipartisan nature of New Zealand trade policy, and he paid tribute to the efforts of successive Governments to bringing the negotiation to a successful conclusion.
He congratulated both of the previous Ministers of Trade, Jim Sutton and Phil Goff, for their leadership of earlier negotiations.
And he was delighted to be in Thailand with the Opposition Spokesperson on Trade, Maryan Street, to witness the final step in the process – the signing of the AANZFTA.
The FTA will now be subject to the parliamentary examination process.
Here’s betting the bloody muesli-fed Greens oppose it.