February 19, 2010
DAS Reed Engages on TPP, U.N. Reform, Environmental Cooperation, Fiji, APEC and Bilateral Issues with New Zealand
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TAGS: OVIP, ETRD, PGOV, SENV, EAGR, FJ, NZ, APECO, MARR, UN, PREL
SUBJECT: DAS Reed Engages on TPP, U.N. Reform, Environmental
Cooperation, Fiji, APEC and Bilateral Issues with New Zealand
CLASSIFIED BY: Robert Clarke, DCM, Department of State, US Embassy Wellington; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
1. (C) Summary. During a series of meetings hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on February 19, EAP Deputy Assistant (DAS) Secretary Frankie Reed engaged on a wide range of topics including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the United Nations, environmental cooperation, Fiji, APEC, and U.S./New Zealand bilateral relations. New Zealand Chief Negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Mark Sinclair said New Zealand views the TPP as a platform for future trade integration in theid: Asia Pacific and recognizes there will a number of sensitive issues on both sides during negotiations. MFAT United Nations, Human Rights, and Commonwealth Division Director James Kember said New Zealand will continue to push for UN reform and voiced disappointment over U.S. handling of the Human Rights Report and Trafficking in Persons Report for New Zealand. MFAT environment officials welcomed more concrete cooperation with the United States under the Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) umbrella and expressed appreciation for U.S. support of the Global Alliance. MFAT Pacific Division Director John Adank said New Zealand relations with Fiji remain rocky and urged the United States and others to continue pushing the Bainimarama regime to return to democracy. On Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), MFAT Asia Division Director Stephen Payton said that New Zealand is reviewing its Bogor Goals and will work closely with the United States to prepare the stage for a successful APEC meeting in 2011 in Hawaii. New Zealand is also open to allowing India to join APEC. America's Division Director David Taylor emphasized New Zealand's appreciation for USG efforts put forward on the review of the military relationship and covered a wide-range of other bilateral matters. End Summary.
Trans-Pacific Partnership - Reaching for the "Gold Standard"'
2. (SBU) Regarding New Zealand domestic issues surrounding the TPP, Chief Negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Mark Sinclair emphasized that it has been a long-held objective of the Government of New Zealand to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, and there is a public perception that getting into the United States will be an "el Dorado" for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is quite different, said Sinclair, since the United States is already quite open to New Zealand trade and investment. He underscored that New Zealand needs to manage expectations in this regard. In addition, Sinclair said that although New Zealand has already negotiated many free trade agreements, it is the first time New Zealand will negotiate an agreement that will open so many political sensitivities with a partner government. Sinclair noted that Minister for Trade Tim Groser is well aware of this and quoted the Minister as saying, "getting the United States to agree to engage on the TPP is the easy part; the negotiating process itself will be gut wrenching, especially achieving the gold standard."
3. (SBU) On multilateral issues, Sinclair emphasized that New Zealand sees the TPP as a platform for future trade integration in the Asia Pacific. If the eight initial members can reach the
"gold standard" on the TPP, it will "put the squeeze" on Japan, Korea and others, which is when the "real payoff" will come in the long term. He also stated that another challenge in negotiating is that the current economic and commercial situation has put a great deal of pressure on domestic agendas. Negotiators must therefore be very cognizant of the impact on jobs, wages, and other such factors. When asked what New Zealand's position is on including new members, Sinclair put forth that "smaller is better" for the current deal. However, he emphasized, that what is more important is U.S. Congressional approval and if "critical mass" can be achieved with the initial eight. New Zealand will take a "constructive view" if the group needs to "bulk up" and include Malaysia, for example.
4. (SBU) When asked what the top local impediments will be to concluding an agreement, Sinclair noted a number of areas sensitive to New Zealand. It is "no secret" that Monsanto does not like New Zealand's genetically modified organism (GMO) regulations, Sinclair
said. Intellectual property rights (IPR) is another "sleeper issue" that may raise concerns when it begins to impinge on New Zealand's digital lifestyle. Sinclair added that foreign investment is always open to populist views in New Zealand, and it can be particularly sensitive when it comes to land acquisition or New Zealand brands that are considered "icons." David Taylor added that investment involving New Zealand's natural resources will also be a sensitive point, particularly in light of the Government's recent decision to open up some conservation areas to resource extraction. According to Sinclair, pharmaceuticals are also bound to be a contentious issue.
Multilateral Issues at the United Nations
5. (SBU) MFAT United Nations, Human Rights, and Commonwealth Division Director James Kember touched on UN reform issues, as well as the U.S. Human Rights Report and Trafficking in Persons Report. On the United Nations, he noted that New Zealand has not signed onto the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because there were still issues to be worked out in the domestic process. (Note: New Zealand officials said they voted against the Declaration because it was inconsistent with New Zealand's constitutional and legal arrangements. End note.) He said that he had met with former Prime Minister (and current UNDP Administrator) Helen Clark the previous day, and she urged New Zealand to continue pushing a U.N. reform agenda in the broader sense. Kember added that New Zealand will continue down this path, but it has largely
been silent on Security Council reform. There is, however, a "red line" for New Zealand on Security Council expansion -- it does not want to see more members with veto power. New Zealand will also seek another term on the Security Council and would appreciate the United State's support of its candidacy. Kember assured that the Government of New Zealand has put a great deal of thought into this decision and believes that the move will help achieve the country's regional security goals.
6. (SBU) Regarding the G20, Kember said that although there are some that call into question whether it is a viable ongoing institution, especially because it excludes the G77, New Zealand continues to "have faith" in the G20. This is because New Zealand has a mechanism for accessing the G20 through U.S. leadership. Taylor added that New Zealand greatly appreciates the United States seeking the views of others; however, it is concerned about others being invited into the group. As the numbers creep up, New Zealand is "not comfortable" if it does not also have a place at the table. In response to the question of other U.N. institutions that need reform, Kember said that the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and other regional institutions set within it have become irrelevant and their time had "come and passed." On the U.N. Human Rights Council, New Zealand appreciates close collaboration with the United States and hopes to strengthen future cooperation. In response to a question on Helen Clark's views on
United Nations Development Program's disaster relief portfolio, Kember said she was laudatory of UNDP's work, and had said that in Haiti UNDP did the best it could given the circumstances. He added that Clark views the UNDP as an "influencer" not an "implementer" and believed that the institution should focus on strategizing and facilitating rather than getting into the "nitty gritty stuff."
New Zealand Unhappy with Human Rights Report and the TIP Report
7. (SBU) Regarding the U.S. Human Rights Report and the TIP Report, Kember emphasized his disappointment with how the reports on New Zealand were handled. He said that New Zealand provides a great deal of information and input for the reports, and the results were a "poor reflection of what New Zealand provided." He added that the he appreciates the U.S. Embassy working closely with MFAT on the reports and expressed his hope that a "more accurate report will come out of it." DAS Reed responded that the U.S. Government appreciates MFAT's assistance and pointed out that the final report reflects a consensus that reaches beyond the Embassy or any geographic bureau at the State Department.
Environmental Cooperation - Ready to Put Meat on the Bones
8. (SBU) On environmental issues, MFAT Environment Division Deputy Director Janet Lowe and Economic Division Officer Laura Hogg briefed DAS Reed on U.S./New Zealand cooperation under the Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) agreement and Global Alliance. Lowe emphasized the importance that New Zealand attaches to developing further projects that support island clean energy projects. She said that Foreign Minister Murray McCully wants to now "put meat on the bones" on the agreement that was reached between New Zealand, Iceland and the United States in 2008, not only because it will help island nations develop sustainable energy sources but also because it is another area to strengthen ties with the United States. The Minister is particularly focused on "the concrete stuff." Currently 65% of New Zealand's energy comes from renewable resources, and the country has a particular expertise on geothermal energy. According to Lowe, New Zealand completed a study on the feasibility of geothermal energy in 20 island nations. Of the 20, the study concluded that five countries had potential. Now New Zealand is studying how it can take this study to the next level. Besides geothermal, New Zealand is also looking at ways to help Tonga get a solar power station up and running. New Zealand
is also interested in doing research together with the United States in Hawaii. Ambassador Huebner welcomed the opportunity for MFAT and the Embassy to work more closely on such projects. On the Global Alliance, Hogg said that New Zealand is very grateful for ongoing U.S. support. She underscored that the emphasis of the Global Alliance is twofold: address food scarcity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Pessimistic Outlook on Fiji
9. (SBU) MFAT Pacific Division Director John Adank outlined the rocky relations between New Zealand and Fiji during recent years and pointed out that New Zealand is making every effort to revive its diplomatic ties with Fiji. He noted that since 2007, three New Zealand diplomats have been expelled (one high commissioner and two acting high commissioners). According to Adank, the expulsions occur whenever the Bainimarama regime tires of New Zealand's travel restrictions. Although New Zealand's diplomatic footprint has been reduced, Foreign Minister McCully is making every effort to move the relationship forward. During the first week of January, FM McCully met with Fiji's Foreign Minister
Kubuabola and pressed the issue of restoring New Zealand's diplomatic footprint in Fiji and issues surrounding Fiji's erratic visa issuance for the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) officials. Adank underscored that the situation in Fiji has deteriorated further over the past year and that the United States, New Zealand, Australia and other countries need to continue pressuring Fiji to restore democracy. He added that there is no sense that the regime in Fiji intends on engaging internally or externally on the issue. Adank urged the United States to consider the reaction of other Pacific Island nations in any decision it takes with regard to Fiji. It needs to be done in the "right light" and "managed
carefully" to avoid driving a wedge between the Pacific Island
countries, said Adank.
Asian Regional Architecture - Three Points on APEC
10. (SBU) MFAT Asia Division Director Stephen Payton briefly discussed three issues with regards to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). He said that New Zealand will work closely with the United States for the next meeting in Yokohama and help prepare the stage for a successful APEC meeting in 2011 in Hawaii. Second, Payton said that New Zealand is currently reviewing its implementation of Bogor Goals, and there is some sensitivity around this. He pointed out that New Zealand has not met the "strict definition" of the goals, and there are perhaps some areas that New Zealand and the United States could work together in this regard. Last, Payton said that New Zealand is considering its position on APEC's membership moratorium. New Zealand is open to allowing India to join.
Bilateral Relations with the United States - Continuing on an
11. (C) Covering a wide-range of bilateral matters, America's Division Director David Taylor first and foremost emphasized New Zealand's appreciation for USG efforts put forward on the review of the military relationship. He welcomed the "candor and warmth" of discussions with DAS Reed and DASD David Scher and said that MFAT will continue to work with the Embassy on joint messaging. Taylor also noted his appreciation for the role of the Embassy and its "constructive, collegial relationship" with MFAT. Regarding the Secretary's visit, Taylor noted that the last minute postponement in January due to the Haiti crisis was completely understandable and he looked forward to her rescheduling. He hoped Washington would give as much advance notice as possible. On the topic of visitors in general, Taylor said there is "real value in visitors from Washington" and expressed his hope that the number of visitors from Washington will continue to grow. He also pressed on the issue of Prime Minister Key's visit to Washington and noted the PM's preference for June. In response to the last point, DAS Reed emphasized that the difficulty in scheduling was not a reflection
of the relationship with New Zealand but was purely an internal coordination issue. Taylor also addressed the issue of budget cuts and resource caps at MFAT, but he expressed his expectation that he would be able to augment his staff at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington with an additional officer in the political section and an additional officer to handle the TPP.