National sticks to bob-each-way on US-China relations in new policy paper
By Pattrick Smellie
May 20 (BusinessDesk) - The National Party proposes ambitious new trade targets for New Zealand's relations with both China and the United States in a foreign affairs discussion document released this morning for public consultation.
Overseen by foreign affairs spokesman and Trade Minister in the last National-led government, Todd McClay, the paper glosses over the growing tension between the US and China on trade and security issues, suggesting New Zealand should aim to double two-way trade with China to $60 billion by 2030, having reached early the $30 billion-by-2020 target set under former Prime Minister John Key.
The swift conclusion of a free-trade agreement with the US is put as a primary goal. New Zealand has long sought an FTA with the US, worth around $18 billion in two-way trade at present. It came close in the negotiation of the trade agreement that was to become the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership - CPTPP - after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the regional trade pact in his first executive act after his inauguration in January 2017.
The paper says the US was instrumental in ensuring the deal was achieved, without discussing the fact that was the result of the previous administration under President Barack Obama.
National says New Zealand must always press the country's values, including freedom of expression, political affiliation and religion in all its dealings, saying that as the relationship with China has matured, successive governments have been able to raise concerns with "our friends in Beijing".