Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's yet to receive any news from the US on whether NZ will receive an exemption on steel and aluminium tariffs put in place by President Donald Trump

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she has yet to receive final world from US officials as to whether New Zealand will be exempt from US steel and aluminium tariffs.

In early March, US President Donald Trump announced the US would be slapping a 25% import tax on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium. Ardern revealed she had written to the US President to plead New Zealand’s case for an exemption saying New Zealand had a “strong case,” as it does not have a significant trade deficit with the US.

The letter, requested by Interest.co.nz through the Official Information Act, was withheld as making the information "would prejudice the international relations of the Government of New Zealand,” according to the Prime Minister office.

Earlier this month, Minister of Trade David Parker said he was “disappointed” that New Zealand had not yet received an exemption.

Days before, he had put New Zealand chances of winning an exemption at just “50/50.”

Asked at her weekly post cabinet press conference on Tuesday afternoon if she was disappointed about the lack of progress so far, Ardern said she was “disappointed that it had happened in the first place.”

“I don’t think anyone benefits from that kind of trade policy,” she said.

“I think the people who end up worse off do include countries like New Zealand as a result, even though relative to some of the others we’re a smaller player in some of those markets. But ultimately I’m disappointed we’re in this position in the first place.”

Fingers crossed for an EU FTA

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister says New Zealand’s commitment to environmental sustainability when it comes to its trade deals was viewed with optimism by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Ardern was in France last week lobbying the European Union for a free trade agreement with New Zealand.

Macron told reporters he hopes an EU-NZ free trade agreement could reflect a "new generation of trade deals."

Although “not counting the chickens before they hatch,” Ardern says to have had such a positive response from Macron “definitely caused me to come away feeling very positive about our position – much more so than I did prior.”

Agriculture didn't come up

One of the major sticking points with getting a deal across the line with Europe is around agriculture and how a free trade agreement with New Zealand would impact the French market.

But Ardern says this didn’t even come up in her conversations with the French President.

“When he was asked about [this issue] by a French journalist, he spoke instead about his desire to embed environment protections in the agreement and how positive he viewed some of our expectations in that regard.”  

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9 Comments

Agriculture "didn't come up" in a discussion about trade between New Zealand and the EU?

The French President was asked about it by a French journalist?

Why the holy f**k wasn't he asked about it by YOU, Jacinda?

Are you the same ms de meanour as the King's Cross dragqueen? I swear that there is one there by the same name as you. Just letting you know. Cheers.

Trump “ New Zealand who? Oh didn’t Kylie come from there or somewhere like that?”

It "didn't even come up". A 38billion dollar export industry, that we are desperately reliant on to pay our way in the world and it din't occur for Jacinda to talk about it with a leader of the key roadblock to EU access?
Paying her salary is pure theft from NZ taxpayers.

Of course it didn't come up! This is not how deals are done. You don't slap your demands down in your first meeting, like an unrefined, ill mannered cretin with a wildly popular, influential major European leader (especially when you are clearly the junior partner), you feel out your common ground first. If Jacinda has gone in there, like a mini Trump barking demands, she would have immediately soured relations. The media have portrayed the meeting as one of positive interaction, which is a perfectly good first step. And I hardly think it wise to jump all over a few tiny snippets of comments and make conclusions based on that. Free trade deals are immensely complex and require subtle and diplomatic behaviour. We will likely never find out the intricacies of such negotiations. Besides nobody needs to mention that agriculture is a huge NZ export. Macron is perfectly aware of this, all the people involved in trade negotiations will be aware of this. Jacinda and Macron won't even be the ones thrashing out the backbone of the deal either, bureaucrats will be. Sheesh.

Right you are.

Of course, but Jacinda is effectively dissembling when she pretends that it is a non-issue like she has with her statement. It is the hugest/only substantive issue for NZ with respect to the EU, she shouldn't be pretending otherwise.

Mentioning our agricultural production for export sounds like mentioning "you may have heard of our Country's Rugby team."

I suspect Ardern is the real Minister of Foreign Affairs.

I wondered where the PM was on ANZAC day, now I know...