New Zealand in the World

  • Max Bradford
Enterprise and Commerce

An Address by

Rt Hon Don McKinnon
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Hon Lockwood Smith PhD
Minister for International Trade

Hon Max Bradford
Minister of Defence

Scotts College

Rt Hon Don McKinnon
Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade

New Zealand Foreign Policy is about projecting New Zealand's interests beyond our borders.

This is necessary because New Zealand does not depend on just one country for an income as it did in the 1950s.

Now we have trade relations with 185 countries worldwide.

To get 'access', we must have good relations with these countries. If we want to
grow the business of New Zealand inc - we must appeal to them as a supplier.

But it's not just about trade.

International relations is a bit like a classroom. How well you do depends on the contribution each student makes.

We contribute, for humanitarian reasons, to making the world a safer and a better place to live.

We believe in a saying "prosper thy neighbour", which means that in order for us to do well, our neigbours need to do well also.

Different countries measure our relationship with them in different ways. It's like having an international scorecard.

The categories are things like defence and security, human rights, the environment. Just like you we can't afford to get a string of D minuses, because that would limit our choices, damage our relationships and put our future at risk.

We project our image in different ways.

Over the years I have met with hundreds of presidents, prime ministers and ministers to push New Zealand's case. It's hard work for a small country like us. To register on the international radar screen we have to keep in touch.

Fortunately I have Lockwood and Max and many other Ministers to help out- a recent example is our push for business in Latin America.

Since I went there last year, seven ministers have travelled there, each one advancing the issues in their areas.

The opportunities in tecnhnology and agribusiness are tremendous. You might think the travel sounds excessive. But believe me, because we are very small, we are easily forgotten. We can't afford to sit at home and wait for others to come and see us.

Fortunately there are some economies of scale. At three annual forums APEC, ARF + PMC, I can catch up with my counterparts from the Asia Pacific region.

These forums give us a vital opportunity to state our case in trade, defence and security and social issues.

As the region's longest serving Foreign Minister, through regular dialogue I have come to know my counterparts well. Getting to know each other helps us to understand each others cultures better. This is an essential part of building relations.

This year New Zealanders got closer to APEC than they ever have before. This APEC was historic. No one planned for East Timor to flare up the way it did, when it did.

But that APEC was on when it did was fortuitous. Having the key decision makers in the same city - instead of scattered all over the globe - meant we could bring them together, face to face, in a special ministerial meeting, to discuss a collective international response.

And we did and it worked. It took nine months of talking to get intervention in Kosovo and only nine days in East Timor.

We are also judged by our willingness to participate in the UN. We have sat twice on the Security Council.

Our role in the UN has seen us contribute to many campaings including ridding Iraq of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Under the UN banner New Zealand peace keepers and mineclearers have become famous for the fantastic work they have done - for example, since 1990 we have had 6000 personnel serving in 50 operations worldwide from Rwanda, to Somalia, Cambodia, Laos, and so on.

We are also a member of the Commonwealth, which is increasingly taking more of an important role in promoting democracy and human rights amongst member states.

Our work in areas like disarmament; human rights and good governance; climate change and the environment also stands out. Simon Upton is arguably the world's most experienced Environment Minister.

We were judged highly for our role in bringing peace to the mineral rich, but war torn island of Bougainville.

When you visit a place like this and meet teenagers who have never been to school and whose education consists of how to make a weapon from a piece of pipe - and this place is in your neighbourhood - you just know something has to be done.

It was pretty tough going - making the peace after ten years of fighting. In this case I threw away the book and, as New Zealanders are famous for, took the no 8 wire approach. That is, we came up with our own way of helping the warring factions to peace. And fortunately it worked.

The challenge for any Foreign Minister is to balance populist ideals with principles. The defence debate is a classic example.

It takes a crisis such as East Timor to highlight the importance of a credible defence force. We were asked to contribute troops and we were ready. We didn't have the luxury of time. That we can contribute as requested and hit the deck running gains us enormous credibility internationally.

So on the international score card New Zealand is doing pretty well right now. We are known for 'punching above our weight'. We have an excellent reputation globally.

It's very much a team effort and Lockwood Smith, our Minister of International Trade is a very key member of our team. Over to you Lockwood.

Hon Lockwood Smith PhD
Minister for International Trade

We learn that trade is good for everyone before we even reach secondary school.

You're walking home. You're feeling thirsty, but you've got a dollar in your pocket.

You want a can of Coke more than the dollar.

The dairy-owner wants your dollar more than the can of Coke in his fridge.

So you trade, and you're both better off.

And the first time we join a sports team we learn another lesson.

It you're the best in the team at shooting goals or playing full-back, you play the whole game at Goal Shoot or full-back. You don't spend half your time at Goal Defence or Prop.

The same is true in economics. If everyone produces what they're best at, and then trades as much as possible, we're all better off.

You might say it's not as simple as that, and you're right.

All round the world, governments put barriers in the way of trade.

It means that our exporters can't sell many products around the world.

The reason governments do this is because they think they're helping their people.

We thought that too.

In New Zealand, we used to place a tax, or a "tariff" on wine imports to "protect" our wine industry from foreign imports.

But the protection didn't help - in fact, it harmed our wine industry.

Sure - we produced a lot of wine, but it wasn't good wine. In fact, it was awful.

We couldn't sell it overseas, because it couldn't compete against overseas wine. So a wine lake developed.

And we couldn't afford good overseas wine, because the tax meant that it was too expensive for most New Zealanders.

In the 1980s, the Government saw wisdom and removed the "protection" from our wine industry.

And it's worked.

Faced with overseas competition, our wine producers lifted their game.

New Zealand now produces some of the best wine in the world.

It's so sought after overseas that in many cases, we can't keep up with demand.

The wine industry is now one of our fastest growing industries, and it provides hundreds more jobs for New Zealand families than it did with Government "protection".

And it's the same across all industries. More people have jobs in New Zealand now than when we tried to use trade barriers to protect them.

And those jobs come in areas where New Zealand is the best in the world.

Although New Zealand no longer puts a tax on imports, plenty of countries around the world still have high tariffs.

This hurts them, and our exporters who want to sell products in their markets.

My job - and the job of my trade minister colleagues all around the world - is to negotiate ways of getting rid of those trade barriers together.

We're working at three levels.

First, globally, there's the World Trade Organisation.

All the trade ministers from WTO members are meeting in Seattle later this month to start negotiations to free up trade in agriculture, industrial products and services.

With agriculture on the agenda, that's vital for New Zealand.

It's our best chance ever of getting rid of the barriers to trade in a product where we're clearly the best in the world.

The next level is our local region, the Asia Pacific, and you'll know all about APEC.

We're planning to free up trade among developed APEC economies - New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, the US and so forth - by 2010.

All APEC economies, including China, will have free trade by 2020.

It means that just about the time when some of you are becoming senior managers in big exporting companies, you'll become the first to have free trade right around the Pacific.

The third level is when we work with one other country, or with a small group of them.

When APEC was on, I signed an agreement with Singapore to negotiate a free trade agreement.

Chile's also joining the development, and maybe Australia and the US.

There's a good group of five trade ministers who all get on well and I think we can make it happen.

But you know my ultimate goal, far into the future?

That New Zealand - and all countries - will have free and open access to all markets around the world.

That'll only happen when all the politicians around the world work out what each of us learnt before we went to secondary school - that we're all better off if we all do what we're best at, and trade as much as possible.

That's what I'm determined to deliver to you, so in a few years time you can get on with doing business, and not have to worry about all the trade barriers that have done so much damage to people throughout the world.


Hon Max Bradford
Minister of Defence

Underpinning our extensive trade networks, our relations with other countries and our ability to make our way in the world is our Defence Force.

In peace times at least, our Defence Force is a low profile achiever for New Zealand.

Hospitals and schools appear to touch our lives in a more immediate way.

They are seen by some as more important than armoured personnel carriers, Hercules aircraft, frigates or F-16s.

But every day, the Defence Force is quietly protecting our families and our ability to survive in an unstable world.

Whether it is patrolling our sea-lanes and air-routes through which we earn a living, searching for missing yachties and trampers, or hunting for fish poachers in our southern Antarctic waters, our armed services are constantly protecting our interests.

And like ambulances and the Automobile Association, the Defence Force is there when things go really wrong.

Like when the big earthquake hits or there is massive flooding.

Or when brutality happens on a horrific scale in East Timor.

Or when Bosnia becomes a killing field.

The Defence Force, like an insurance policy, is ready to help; ready to help stop brutal killings and uphold the values we all care about.

Values such as people's freedom, their right to vote, and their right to protest without being imprisoned.

And to be effective, our Defence Force has to be equipped to deal with every eventuality and be ready to go when it is needed.

We can't predict exactly what the next crisis might be.

We don't know if our best contribution to peace will be soldiers, frigates, F-16s or a combination of all three.

Soldiers without fighter aircraft protecting them from above are vulnerable and our Navy is vital to enforce blockades and give further support to our troops.

For some people, the link between a steely grey frigate, a tank or an F-16 and things like peace and human rights are hard to see, but you can't safeguard one without the other.

Over the past 10 years New Zealand has been a busy international citizen.

As Don McKinnon said, we have sent nearly 6000 men and women overseas since 1990 on 41 peacekeeping missions around the world.

This year 1700 of our soldiers, sailors and airforce people will have been involved in a total of 23 peacekeeping operations.

Currently almost 1000 of our service people are in East Timor.

On a population basis, this is as big a contribution as Australia is making.

Doing our bit to help make the world a safer place pays dividends for New Zealand.

As a small island nation we can't put our heads in the sand and shut ourselves away from the world.

We have bought expensive and controversial frigates and F-16s in the knowledge that we have to be seen to be doing our share.

Because of this we are taken seriously by the international community.

Our defence relationship with Australia, our largest trading partner, is the best it has ever been.

And our relationship with the United States is thawing.

Our Defence ability helps us trade and get on in the world.

It has to be affordable for the size of our country.

But, it must be able to make a difference that counts.

A difference for New Zealand, and for the security of the people in our region.