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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Local customs

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy was doing his best John Key "I'm-relaxed-about-that" routine this morning on RNZ. NZ meat has been held up at the Chinese border and Guy reckons one issue is the change of name of the NZ authority and something else, but he hopes by the end of the week it will be OK. He says it happens everywhere apparently.  Does anyone really believe this?

Would the NZ customs have held up an important class of Chinese imported product on the basis of a name change to the Chinese ministry and... something else? No way - that would not happen. The NZ authorities would not do this and nor would the Chinese authorities just accept what has happened the way the NZ politicians and officials have.

RNZ reporting:
Chinese officials have been refusing to clear the meat being held at the border because of confusion over a name change on accompanying documentation.
Export certificates for companies to send meat to China were changed in March to recognise that the former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is now known as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Mr Guy told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme some chilled meat is already being taken off the wharf, and frozen product is likely to be moved in the next two days.

Guy is clueless. Something is seriously wrong with this relationship. The Chinese customs service lists visits between officials, but this does not seem substantial.

In November last year I posted on this when the product in question being impaired was infant formula:

Chinese front companies using NZ, the melamine scandal... it comes down to dodgy Chinese pratices - not dodgy NZ practices.

I wouldn't have posted on this formula milk issue if it weren't for reports I've received that our fish products are getting a hard time going through the Hong Kong border into China and that as a result of this it has to be re-routed through Shanghai at great expense. The reasons given why our exports aren't getting through in Hong Kong (but are getting through via Shanghai) are typically vague.

The Chinese are not proving to be particularly reliable partners are they? What a surprise that would be - to no-one.
NZ customs have not acted in the aggressive and hostile way our Chinese counterparts have - and our state-controlled media hasn't organised a campaign to discredit Chinese products the way they seem to have done in this instance either.

Are these incidents and impairments in China part of Chinese policy or not? Is the FTA going to turn into a one-way street, with our direction blocked with Chinese red tape?

 ... seriously wrong.

NZ Herald reporting today:
The New Zealand Defence Force and Ports of Auckland confirmed yesterday that the Yuan Wang 6 arrived on Sunday and was a space-tracking vessel controlled by the Chinese navy.This detail was later denied by its shipping agency Cosco and omitted in statements by both the Chinese Consulate General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Lieutenant Commander Vicki Rendall of the Royal New Zealand Navy confirmed yesterday morning that "yes, it is a Chinese navy ship".
Ports of Auckland senior communications advisor Dee Radhakrishnan echoed this shortly after.
"The Chinese ship at Queens Wharf West is the Yuan Wang 6 - Chinese space-tracking ship, operated by the Chinese navy."
The Chinese Consulate General was guarded when asked about the ship."We have contacted the official on the ship in charge of media affairs and we were told that they will not accept any media interviews during their stay."
But when pushed further the Vice-Consul, Zhang Fangfang, released the following statement.
"Thanks for your attention for the Chinese space-tracking ship Yuan Wang 6. Yuan Wang 6 arrived in Auckland on May 19 after successful completion of a space-tracking assignment, to replenish supplies and allow the crew a refreshing rest."
A spokesman for Mfat also overlooked the navy detail.
"The Yuan Wang 6, currently in NZ waters, is a Chinese vessel used for satellite tracking. The visit of the Yuan Wang 6 follows similar visits in the past by space-tracking vessels, most recently in 2011."
The ship carries 300 crew members and is due to stay for a week.

The NZ government is whoring the country off to the Americans by day (witness the high-level Hollywood love-in going on in the US now) and renting it out by night to the new pimps on the block, the Chinese - including to their military - all in aid of a so-called"free" trade agreement where they are playing games and refusing to allow our main food product categories (like seafood and meat) through their border. Where is the NZ top brass to deal with this issue?

How the relationship works out in the cold hard light of the real world is a lot different than how it looked on paper to the MFAT flunkies in Wellington and the dollar-eyed farmers.  The concern is not so much the actual affect that these stoppages and hassles have had in themselves - they are probably very small in relation to overall trade across the board - but what they signal for the how the relationship develops and just how much shit NZ is willing to put up with. The Chinese are pushing and NZ is not pushing back. This acquiescenceis not the foundation of an equal partnership.



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