What I'm working on over summer: Steve Hoadley

30 January 2017
Dr Stephen Hoadley

We’re catching up with our researchers to find out what they will be working on over the summer.

Trade negotiations are rarely at the top of summer holiday-makers’ agendas. But New Zealand’s trade officials will be on the job this summer, keeping an eye on this vital aspect of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

So will Associate Professor Stephen Hoadley of Politics and International Relations.

This summer Stephen is completing a book covering how New Zealand initiated — and remains a world leader in — trade liberalisation agreements.

Popularly called free trade agreements (FTAs) by enthusiasts, or preferential trade agreements (PTAs) by critics, these have become increasingly complex since the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement, or CER for short, was completed in 1983.

Stephen argues that CER remains the simplest, most successful FTA in the world. It continues to be refined and elaborated by successive governments in Wellington and Canberra.

Subsequent New Zealand FTAs have built on the CER model but have been broadened and deepened to include not only trade in goods, but also trade in services, border and behind-the-border trade facilitation arrangements, and rules to prevent discrimination, labour exploitation, and environmental despoliation.

These features were added, often at New Zealand’s request, to agreements with Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea.

Stephen explains that “New Zealand’s triumph was to secure an FTA with China, a first for a developed country, and subsequently with Hong Kong and Taiwan.”

Negotiations are currently underway with India, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership states. Negotiations with Russia were suspended after the invasion of Crimea.

In all of these negotiations New Zealand officials have insisted on a chapter recognising Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

In his writing Stephen explores the debate between free-traders and protectionists, sometimes called neo-mercantilists or economic nationalists, and shows how it plays out in every modern trade negotiation.

“The elaboration of recent FTAs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has led not only Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser, but also Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, to characterise them as ‘gold standard’ agreements. Ironically this achievement has attracted criticism from anti-globalists on grounds of intrusiveness into national prerogatives.”

“Once set up quietly by government diplomats, FTAs are now political issues in the public domain, attracting as much passion as reason around the world, not least in New Zealand.”

Stephen’s book will present the negotiation of, and the arguments over, pre-FTA case studies such as early trade access talks with Japan and the European Economic Community, as well as cases right up to the present. He plans to devote a chapter to speculation about the prospects of an FTA with the European Union and with the post-Brexit United Kingdom.

The book is to conclude with a summary of the lessons learned by New Zealand trade negotiators and recommendations for negotiators in the future and in other countries.

The book arising from Stephen’s summer research is to be published in April 2017.

Find out more about studying Politics and International Relations