Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 23/1/24

Trade and security are taking NZDF personnel and a Minister to the Middle East – but Yemen is not on the agenda

A Minister and six Defence Force personnel are headed for the Middle East.

Not for the same reason, we hasten to add.

And no-one will be visiting Yemen (all going well).

The Minister of Trade will finish up in Dubai after visiting the World Trade Organisation in Switzerland.

The six Defence Force personnel are being deployed to uphold maritime security in the Red Sea.

Prime Minister Christoper Luxon explained:

“Houthi attacks against commercial and naval shipping are illegal, unacceptable and profoundly destabilising.

“This deployment, as part of an international coalition, is a continuation of New Zealand’s long history of defending freedom of navigation both in the Middle East and closer to home.”

The team will contribute to the collective self-defence of ships in the Middle East, in accordance with international law, from operational headquarters in the region and elsewhere. No NZDF personnel will enter Yemen. It is part of a continuous New Zealand defence contribution to maritime security in the Middle East since 2013.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says the strikes being carried out by the international coalition are against Houthi military targets which have played a role in attacking commercial and naval vessels.

Trade Minister Todd McClay – following his appointment as a WTO Vice Chair – is traveling to prepare for the 13th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, being held in Abu Dhabi next month.

While in Geneva, McClay will meet key leaders within the World Trade Organization including the Director General, Deputy Director General, and the heads of key Regional Groups in the WTO, as well as Pacific Representatives.

“The WTO remains at the core of New Zealand’s trade and economic interests. A functioning rules-based system delivers benefits for our businesses and exporters, as well as the broader economy,” Mr McClay says.

“My visit provides the opportunity to influence and drive positive outcomes at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting, especially around domestic agricultural production that supports the interests of both developing and developed countries.”

McClay will then travel to Dubai to meet with Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, to discuss New Zealand’s support for the UAE chairing of the 13th WTO Ministerial Committee, and our bilateral trading interests, including exploratory talks towards a bilateral Closer Economic Partnership Agreement.

The UAE is New Zealand’s largest export market in the Middle East, and a key interlocutor on regional issues.

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Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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