Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Mike Hosking: Govt's overseas trips have to achieve something tangible

The almost universal review card of the Prime Minister's much-hyped first trade trip was that it ended up light on detail.

It was to Singapore and Japan, where we got a visa adjustment that allowed 300 instead of 200 people with certain skills into the country. Whether any of them come is another matter, of course, as raised by the Employers and Manufacturers Association yesterday.

There were a couple of Toyotas powered by hydrogen that are going to part of some trial here in a bid to boost hydrogen use.

The sharing of some information with Japan was new and we had a couple of dancing kiwifruit. All in all, it was a very superficial hit and run.

Part of it was to tell that part of Asia we are open for business. That then led to the ongoing issue that it’s actually quite hard to get here because of airlines still scaling up and because of all the paperwork, testing, and other bollocks that we still insist on you having.

Fast forward a month or so and this time it’s the United States. It appears we haven't learned a thing.

I'm not against Jacinda Ardern going on Stephen Colbert, all publicity is good publicity.

I'm not against her glad-handing a few tech wizards or meeting Gavin Newsom. But that’s all it is.

If that’s all it is, don’t call it a trade trip call it a "where the bloody hell are ya” tourism caper. If you're drumming up holiday trade, don’t pretend that’s not what you are there to do.

Trade trips are about large delegations. You'll note that is the other aspect of it, they didn’t learn from last time. Next to no one went to Singapore and Japan, and the same number are going to the States.

Trade trips are about trade, they are about deals, announcements, and bottom lines. They are about coming back with something tangible that shows going was actually worth the energy and the effort.

Trip one produced nothing and trip two looks to be as productive.

A White House meeting is always good, but it doesn’t produce anything. What we need is more access, more business, more sales, and better prices.

Hell, what we want is an FTA, and that prize isn't even on the agenda.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings.

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