What is the Pacific Reset, and how does it impact NZ trade?
The New Zealand government has been incredibly active in the Pacific of late. We recently covered off a lot of aid that was sent out in the wake of natural disasters, but the relationship-building has been proactive as well as reactive.
At a recent address by PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs Winston Peters outlined the government's new vision for relations with our closest neighbours – a Pacific Reset. Essentially, it's a strategy aimed at confronting issues head-on and moving forward together towards a goal of shared economic prosperity.
Which is all well and good – but what are the tangible impacts going to be for New Zealand and Pacific businesses?
The Pacific Reset in detail
The March 28 statement from Mr Peters outlined the need for a reconfiguration of New Zealand's relationship with its Pacific neighbours. In particular, big motivators for change were:
A renewed focus on Pacific security and economic wellbeing.
Environment- and society-related issues that must be addressed.
Increased focus on the Pacific as a key strategic asset in the eyes of "external parties".
"New Zealand is a Pacific country, linked to the Pacific by history, geography, common interests, politics, and demographics," Peters added.
"All these dynamics, and a change to New Zealand's relative influence, motivate us to adopt a re-energised approach."
The reset is centred around five core principles: friendship, understanding, mutual benefit, collective ambition and sustainability. Essentially, it is the Labour-NZ First Government's statement of goodwill in how it deals with Pacific nations and helps to bring them further into the developed world. Engagement, cooperation and listening were key elements of Ardern and Peter's trip to the Pacific in March, as noted by Stuff's Henry Cooke.
At its core, the Pacific Reset is a peace offering – a statement that the government of New Zealand is here to listen and to help elevate its closest neighbours.
Impacts of the Pacific Reset on New Zealand trade and business
In terms of concrete projects that form part of the Pacific Reset, the primary focus has been on aid. Assistance in recovery from Cyclone Gita has been supplemented with some infrastructure announcements (largely roads), and a reworking of pension rules to allow many Pacific residents to reap the benefits of New Zealand Superannuation.
In the short-term, this may increase job opportunities for those looking at contract work in the Pacific, especially in the construction or logistics sectors. Every individual infrastructure project creates a massive number of job for both Pacific and New Zealand residents, including massive up-skilling and training opportunities.
There are also one-off collaborative efforts, like New Zealand's assistance in PNG as the country gears up to host APEC.
"We are working in partnership with PNG to provide a range of assistance, including for security, police training, and protocol," Mr Peters told the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
Additionally, the NZ Government recently announced the secondment of New Zealand Electoral Commission official Karyl Winter to Fiji, ahead of its 2018 elections. Accompanied by 15,000 voting screens to uphold the electoral system, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade explicitly tied this gesture to Pacific Reset relations.
At its core, the Pacific Reset is about a fresh start and new growth opportunities. This means new business ventures, new infrastructure projects and new jobs created right across the Pacific. It's a long-term, wide-ranging commitment that could result in your next Pacific experience.
To find out more about current job opportunities in the Pacific, get in touch with the team at Tradestaff Global today.