Trade policy is, in most parts of the region, being pushed aside by the Covid-19 disease. This is beginning to have a real impact on China’s imports and exports, and those of economies dependent on trade with China. Some of these are also beginning to be affected by Covid-19 infections. For New Zealand, the most immediate and direct impacts have been on tourism, international education, logs, and live seafood. But other industries are beginning to feel some pain. Some of this is because the hospitality trade in China has pretty much shut down. Factories are far from back to normal. And ports and the freight industry in China are far from back to normal operations. A number of shipping services to and from China have been cancelled. And accessing empty containers might soon become a serious problem. We are monitoring the situation closely. We recommend that exporters check the NZTE advice onhttps://bit.ly/3bWLXph which is updated daily.
Prospects for an immediate launch of FTA negotiations with the UK are dimming. It seems that most of the UK’s focus is on the EU and the US. New Zealand, Australia, and Japan look as though they are going to have to wait a few months before negotiations begin.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker are due to visit India next week. India has pulled out of the RCEP process which was a disappointment for New Zealand exporters. But all may not be lost. Also visiting India next week in US President Donald J Trump. There is much talk about an FTA between the US and India. If this were to happen and some of India’s agriculture is open to competition with the US, it might be that opposition to negotiations with New Zealand might fade. CPTPP is also an option for India. At the end of the day, the RCEP process failed because of Indian fears about China. China is not part of CPTPP.
This negotiation continues to be stalled because of EU unwillingness to improve the market access offer on agriculture. There is unlikely to be much change in the EU position until after the New Zealand election in September.
Minister Parker has been in the UAE this week. This has been well-timed as it seems that interest from the GCC in re-starting the FTA negotiation with New Zealand is on the rise. There are still problems inside the GCC with Qatar- Saudi Arabia relations still strained. It is also unclear whether the GCC will honour the agreement that is still on the table or whether it wants to re-negotiate elements of this.
The US has announced that FTA negotiations are, to begin with, Kenya and that this will be a model agreement that will be used in negotiations with other African countries. Might this stimulate interest from the New Zealand government in beginning negotiations with countries in that important region?
There is a growing expectation that Thailand might be about to request to begin negotiations to join this agreement.