Trump presidency could do NZ good, trade envoy says
Donald Trump's presidency may not be a bad thing for New Zealand, a top agricultural trade diplomat says.
Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mike Petersen said he was not convinced Trump would be bad for the country.
"He's really strong on holding countries to account on trade obligations and that's a good thing," Petersen told a crowd of about 50 farmers and rural professionals at the launch of the Rural Business Network's (RBN) Taranaki hub in Hawera on Wednesday.
He pointed to the recently resolved dispute over Indonesian trade barriers that led to the collapse in New Zealand beef exports to the southeast Asian country as an example of where time could be saved.
In 2013, New Zealand and the US took 18 complaints regarding agricultural non-tariff barriers imposed by Indonesia to the World Trade Organisation. The WTO ruled in favour of New Zealand and the US in December, finally bringing the four-year case to a close.
"If he's stronger on making sure trade partners meet their obligations in the first place, there should be less time spent on trade disputes and more time spent trading," Petersen said.
The president's push to "Make America Great Again" could also have positive implications for New Zealand.
"He's going to be pro development and pro growth in the US and, although that might sound like a negative, it will benefit Kiwi exporters," Petersen said.
"He's going to stimulate the US economy with spending on infrastructure and development and that will increase growth and demand.
"If the US has a strong economy, it lifts their dollar and lowers the Kiwi and improves our export earnings."
Petersen, a Hawke's Bay farmer and former chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the New Zealand Meat Board, was appointed to his current role in 2013.
He was heavily involved in negotiations for the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal he believed New Zealand could still benefit from, despite Trump's immediate move to pull the US out of the deal.
"New Zealand had a very good deal out of the TPP - if it had been ratified - and although it looks like it is dead to a lot of people, I'm not convinced that's the case.
"The thing that's often missed is that Trump is saying the US will do bilateral deals outside of the TPP but the TPP was actually a series of bilateral deals," he said.
"Some of those deals may be enacted, some may be grouped into other deals but I believe something will come out of what was the TPP. You don't spend seven years working to get nothing out of it."
Petersen also believed Trump would not want to give China too much time as the major player in Asia-Pacific trade.
"The US pulling out of the TPP puts China in the box seat. Before you had the US on one side and China on the other and there was some balance to it," he said.
"Now China looks like the power player but the US won't want to stay out of Asia-Pacific for long."
Petersen was the first of three keynote speakers expected to take part in RBN meetings in Taranaki in the coming year.
With 10 other hubs around the country, RBN provides an opportunity for farmers and rural professionals to develop and grow their businesses through networking and learning.
The network is run in association with Young Farmers, ANZ, the Red Meat Profit Partnership and DairyNZ.
Membership is free and includes confidential access to a business mentor who can offer a fresh perspective to anyone operating a farming business, working as a farm manager, or looking to start an agricultural business.