Latin American Policies

Tue, 10 Mar, 2015 5:30 PM — 6:30 PM
Wellesley Boutique Hotel, Maginnity Street, Wellington

The LANZBC's events programme for 2015 got off to a great start when spokespeople from New Zealand's largest political parties presented their parties' policies on Latin America to our members in Wellington on 10 March. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce, attracted almost 30 attendees, including the Ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, the Consul-General of Colombia, and diplomats from Cuba, Spain, Germany and the United States.

Trade Minister Tim Groser underlined his longstanding support for the Council by opening the event even as the crisis surrounding threats to adulterate baby milk products was breaking. The Minister noted the frustration that successive New Zealand governments had felt in the last two decades over the thinness of relations with Latin America; while there were numerous areas of collaboration on multilateral issues, more people-to-people and business links were required. The TPP and the Pacific Alliance presented two pathways to market, but Brazil also needed to be engaged.

James Shaw, a candidate for the Greens' co-leadership, then told the audience of his experience doing business with Brazil. He said the Greens were in favour of trade in the right circumstances, such as control over investor-state dispute settlements. And he also suggested that New Zealand could learn from innovative Latin American policies, including Curitiba's transport design and Ecuador's recognition of the rights of the earth.

David Shearer then concluded the event by noting both the bipartisan nature of New Zealand policy to Latin America and the contributions Labour had made to it (through Helen Clark's personal connections, the P4, and the introduction of Working Holidays agreements). He believed more PhD students could come to New Zealand and that more scientific and agricultural exchanges could occur, and he hoped that Auckland Airport could be more of a hub between Asia and South America once Air New Zealand flies to Argentina. Like Mr Groser, he felt that relations were largely dormant and needed a shot in the arm.

Since the event Mr Shaw has become deputy chair of the Parliamentary Latin American Friendship Group, which includes Trevor Mallard (Labour) and David Bennett (National).

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