As part of the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies’ annual ANZAC event, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States, Mike Moore, addressed his nation’s role in international economics and politics, despite its small size and geographical isolation.
“We are not isolationist, nor are we neutral to the great events changing the world,” Moore, a former director-general of the World Trade Organization, said.
Like other nations, we will base our decisions on our engagements, values, interests, and limitations. Having said that, we do not live in a vacuum. Nations are not NGOs; you cannot project and protect your values and interests without the cooperation and understanding of others. This has always been so.
Small nations need rules-based systems more than great powers, and the law is the great equalizer. We know there are great costs to the dangerous paths of soft, populist isolationism, and the dangers inherent in both an economic and political sense. The two are intertwined: economic isolationism makes us all poorer. Globalization is not new: its not a policy dreamed up by Wall Street or our debtors. Globalization should not be demonized or idealized.
Moore cited two primary examples for New Zealand’s international engagement: its worldwide military history and its relationship with China.
For its military history, Moore catalogued all the wars New Zealand has been involved in in its history (i.e. almost all of the United Kingdom’s wars, plus a few extra). In World War I, Moore said, 47 percent of Kiwi men fought, with a casualty rate of 58 percent. In World War II, New Zealand helped the British in the Battle of Britain. This July, New Zealand is inviting back US Marines who were stationed on the islands 70 years ago during World War II, as the nation’s guests of honor.
As for China, during Moore’s tenure at the TWO, New Zealand was the first developed nation to reach a free trade agreement with China. According to Moore, the US-China relationship is the most important in this age, and that the recent decline in America’s share of global GDP isn’t caused by the “decline of the West, but by the rise of the rest.”
When he was first working with China, Moore said the biggest hurdle to adopt the free market was the institution of commercial laws, like bankruptcy, that the developed world had for the past century. Additionally, Moore hoped China would take a better leadership role in global economic agreements. For example, if Bangladesh is accusing anyone of economic imperialism for encroaching on its textile markets, the accused will probably be China.
Although it might seem like textile disputes in Asia are outside New Zealand’s purview, Moore declared, “In order to be good nationalists, we have to be internationalists.”