The Opposition says Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ increasingly pro-Russia rhetoric is making EU officials working on a free trade deal with New Zealand nervous, but the PM has backed Peters’ stance

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has poured cold water over claims her Deputy Prime Minister is jeopardising New Zealand’s chances of a free trade agreement with the EU.

On Monday, National’s spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Todd McClay, suggested that the push by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters for a trade deal with Russia, as well as comments he made over the weekend, have worried EU officials.  

In an interview with The Nation, Peters said the Government is “deadly serious” about a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Russia.

He says under the Key-led Government, National was “boasting” about getting an FTA with Russia.

“Then, all of a sudden on the golf course of Hawaii, the whole thing collapsed. Why would that be?” he asked.

“And the EU, who thanked us for what we did, then started attacking our agricultural markets. Let’s be honest here – we’re going to go into these conversations from here on in with our eyes wide open as to the fact, and not pulling our punches. We might get a fairer deal.”

McClay says Peters’ comments have muddied the water for the EU and suggested the 28-nation bloc will be having reservations about getting an FTA with New Zealand across the line because of his stance on relations with Russia.

In fact, McClay suggests the commitment to an FTA with Russia has already hindered getting a trade deal across the line with the EU.

“The EU commissioner was due to come here last year to launch the FTA with New Zealand. She didn’t come. At the same time, its ambassador said that the EU was very concerned about signals being sent from the New Zealand Government.”

He challenged the Prime Minister to explain exactly what the Government’s position is.

No issues here, PM says

Ardern was quick to rubbish McClay’s comments at her weekly post-cabinet press conference.

“We are prioritising the EU FTA and there is a good reason for that – we are seeking a mandate this year to proceed with that negotiation and are very hopeful about that.”

Two-way trade between New Zealand and the EU is roughly $20 billion a year, whereas it’s just half a billion with Russia.

“What the Deputy Prime Minister has pointed out is that while [Russian] sanctions have been in place, there have been other countries within Europe who have traded around those sanctions and have been able to do so.”

She says there are a number of non-tariff barriers between New Zealand and Russia that the Government is looking to overcome to “make sure New Zealand is treated fairly and in the same way that others who have been trading around the sanctions are being treated.

Getting a free trade agreement with Russia is in the Labour/New Zealand First Coalition agreement but Ms Ardern has previously said a trade deal with the EU is top of New Zealand’s agenda.

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16 Comments

Russia is going to want our farming IT regards dairy. They have grain growing sorted, thats causing havoc in the USA/Canada/ Australia.
Putin wants Russian Dairy self sufficient in 4 years.

https://www.producer.com/2017/09/russian-wheat-output-shocks-markets/

Of course Russia wants our Dairy know-how , and they have no respect for IP or tech know -how , they will just appropriate it

And lets not forget they are somewhat bigger than us in terms of land size , so they could flood the world dairy industry and screw it up completely

Peters is right, there is nothing wrong with a FTA with Russia. Many in Europe want sanctions against Russia to be lifted, including German business.

NZ is supposed to have an independent foreign policy after all.

Look at Iran, the US wants more sanctions and to reneg on the 2015 nuclear agreement yet the EU doesn't. There is freedom for us to make our own way here without causing dramas.

Do not think for a moment that Winston could be worse representing NZ than his two National predecessors. [ Please keep the childish insults out of your comments. Ed ]

Iran could be a great country for a free trade deal.

Being grown up about the harsh reality - that sometimes economic self-interest means that you have to do deals with people who aren't quite as nice as you might ideally like - is a completely different proposition from pretending that actually there's nothing problematic about doing trade deals with them because they're perfectly nice people, innocent of all the charges.

That is just stupid and naïve.

The EU does 10% ($360 billion) of its foreign trade with Russia which majorly involves exporting machinery and cars, and importing oil and gas. Moreover, the EU has been running a net deficit on its balance of trade account with Russia since the oil and gas pipelines were upgraded.
Maybe the Europeans want NZ to walk away from a trade deal with Russia to protect the dairy exports of its own member nations.

peters comments re the Buk missle system is a joke but really confirms my though that new zealand is an isolated country that is prehaps better named spartonia...or sportonia... a country where people whatch aggressive sports on TV and arnt sure what culture means...im sure most people in new zealand dont care who shot down the plane... pass the beer? What a joke...Im sure the europeans especially the dutch will be sending a complaint to the PM who really must now be starting to realise the problem she has got...and its call WINSTON.

Who , when , who got business in doing so - follow the money - then complain!!!

This Government is fast becoming an utter farce .

Firstly , they dont seem to even have the same page sheet , let alone speak from it......... dont they talk to each other before announcing policy on the fly for goodness sake ?

There is NO leadership coming from Adern as she has the lead role in the farce , rattling the Aussies over Manis Island , as she wanders around the Pacific handing out lollies and making platitudes, saying all the "nice" things she intends to do with productive Kiwis hard earned money .

Peters is, as always, a loose cannon and now we know why he was fired from almost every Government he was part of in the past .

What on earth do we want a trade deal with Russia for ? The country is broke , run by a thug who is killing innocent civilians in Syria , not to mention what he did in Ukraine and Chechnya .

On the domestic front , the Government is flip-flopping and back peddling vigorously on EVERY election promise they made to a gullible and utterly naive electorate .

Like a drunken man we see them stumbling , fumbling and bumbling along as they lurch from one crisis to the next , with no plan , no strategy , no direction and coalition partners snapping at their heels constantly as they try to get their respeective agendas up there .

The only thing we have had so far is the talk of a raft of new taxes that will miraculously reduce poverty and inequality .

Frankly , they are behaving like they are running something between that Students Union ( badly ) or a a bunch of teenage cub Scouts running a sausage sizzle stand at Bunnings on a Saturday morning .

Why is Cannabis legalization even up for debate when we are trying to ban smoking completely by 2025 ?

It defies logic that we could legalise a any from of new mind altering substance for anything other than medicinal purposes .

Can you imagine truck drivers being high on dope driving a 30 ton truck on State Highway 1........... legally ?

Anyone with one eye could see the election promises were either not doable , too expensive , or simply wishful thinking disguised as Policy

The housing crisis has effectively been made a whole lot worse by discouraging the market from providing rental stock , one would be utterly foolish to invest in the provision of residential letting accommodation for fear you will be hounded into bankruptcy through new taxes , ring fencing of losses , all manner of anti-landlord rules and regulations to name just a few

They cant even organize a Labour Party conference, without it degenerating into what appears to have been a drunken orgy ........like something we expect from Donald Trump ...........sex, and sexual harassment of young teenage girls, drugs, booze, underage drinking, and who knows what else went on .

Winston Peters the patriach is like the doddering Grandad at a toddlers birthday party , smiling like a fool and saying very little of substance .

The Greens are again in disarray , unable to elect a clear co - leader .

Peters is off on a tangent doing as he pleases without consulting anyone, emboldened with the knowledge he was the Kingmaker , and safe in the knowledge he can get away with it

Roberston is now proposing a "social budget " in his budget speech ........ whatever that may be...... the man is delusional.

Its just ridiculous that we have got to this so soon .

We need a vote of No - Confidence in this Government at parliament as soon as possible , to send a clear message we will not tolerate childish kindergartenesque nonsense like this from our lawmakers.

and breathe...

If only you could recast your vote, eh.

Well it would have made no difference

There's no need for a vote of no confidence as they'll self destruct before the year is out.

In the meantime just sit back, enjoy the spectacle and hope not too much damage is done.

Why is Cannabis legalization even up for debate when we are trying to ban smoking completely by 2025 ?

Cannabis can be consumed in many different forms..

Can you imagine truck drivers being high on dope driving a 30 ton truck on State Highway 1........... legally ?

Alcohol is legal, but its still illegal to drive a 30ton truck while drunk. Is it really that hard to comprehend?

The housing crisis has effectively been made a whole lot worse by discouraging the market from providing rental stock , one would be utterly foolish to invest in the provision of residential letting accommodation for fear you will be hounded into bankruptcy through new taxes , ring fencing of losses , all manner of anti-landlord rules and regulations to name just a few

Yep, all those houses just disappearing off the face of the country.. oh wait, the houses are still there.

What on earth do we want a trade deal with Russia for ? The country is broke , run by a thug who is killing innocent civilians in Syria , not to mention what he did in Ukraine and Chechnya .

What on earth do we want a trade deal with USA for? The govt is broke, run by a neanderthal who can't keep his hands to himself, has a dodgy human rights record (Gitmo, Afghanistan etc.)..

Just another rant by a bitter National/Act supporter, with not much basis in fact or logic.

The attack in Donbass rolls on, Winston.
"the area stayed a war zone, with dozens of soldiers and civilians killed each month.[46] In 2017 on average one Ukrainian soldier died in combat every three days.[47] Since the start of the conflict there have been more than ten ceasefires, each intended to operate indefinitely, with the latest having started on 5 March 2018; none of them stopped the violence"
Russia's official position on the presence of Russian forces in Donbass has been vague: while official bodies have denied presence of "regular armed forces" in Ukraine, it has on numerous occasions confirmed presence of "military specialists" and used other euphemisms, usually accompanied by an argument that Russia "was forced" to deploy them to "defend Russian-speaking population".[40][41] By end of 2017, OSCE observatory mission accounted for around 30,000 individuals in military-style dress crossing from Russia to Donbass just at two border checkpoints it was allowed to monitor.[42]