Wednesday, July 6, 2022

EDITORIAL: Gluttons might find food short

It is a strange time to be a journalist. I watched the remarkable scenes last week of the United States presidential press secretary accusing journalists of lying and making up stories about the size of the inauguration crowd.

Another of the president’s advisers then stated they were putting forward “alternative facts” to argue the issue.

Since a fact is “a thing that is known or proven to be true”, I’m not sure how you can provide an alternative but, in any case, this is the road the Trump administration seems to be travelling.

The role of the press is to hold leaders to account and to ensure the public is informed. The press shines a light on the workings of Government and provides the transparency that is vital in a democracy.

It’s alarming that the new US president appears set on going to war with the press and trying to subjectively control objective truth.

Trump did quite a few other things last week, his first in office. One of those was to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement that would unite the Asia-Pacific region. He said the US would seek bilateral agreements with some or all of the TPP nations, but on his terms.

New Zealand looks set to explore this one-on-one arrangement though I can’t see our food exporters taking to an agreement that would allow the other party to back out with 30 days’ notice, as Trump has indicated. The US is a big and important market for NZ and the TPP would have opened up access to other vital markets, such as Japan. Discussions have begun on whether the pact can continue, just without the US, but will that achieve what we want?

On the other front, dairy producers in Europe are beginning to voice their concerns about a free-trade deal between NZ and the European Union. Polish farmers want dairy products excluded from any such deal.

Our trade negotiators must be scratching their heads at all this. The appetite for a world based on co-operation and mutual respect seems to have been replaced by one run by gluttons. The trouble is that without global trade they may run out of food.

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