Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cablegate: New Zealand edition

Last weekend, the Sunday Star-Times began releasing cablegate cables relating to New Zealand. This weekend, the Sunday Herald is in on the act. Today's revelations:

But the big revelation is the news from the Sunday Star-Times that MFAT does not actually think a free-trade deal with the United States is worth it:
New Zealand's chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair privately told a visiting US State Department official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement. This view – recorded in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks – differs from the one the public has been given.

When the US joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in November last year, Prime Minister John Key said it could be worth "billions and billions" to New Zealand, and that a deal would "position New Zealand brilliantly for growth".

But in a meeting in February, Sinclair told US Deputy Assistant Frankie Reed "there is a public perception that getting into the US will be an `El Dorado' for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different".

He said New Zealand would need to "manage" public expectations about the benefits of a US free-trade agreement.

(Link added) This isn't surprising. An Australian analysis of their FTA with the US has shown that it actually cost them money. And with the US making similar demands around intellectual property, GM and pharmaceutical policy from us, an agreement with them will likely have the same result here. The question then is why politicians keep pursuing such deals.