New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets her Australian counterpart in Melbourne today. The meeting is the first since Scott
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets her Australian counterpart in Melbourne today.
The meeting is the first since Scott Morrison renewed his mandate in May’s election, and Ms Ardern plans to use it to enhance Wellington’s “closest and most important” relationship, with a focus on trade and investment.
Australia is New Zealand’s second largest trading partner and its largest foreign direct investor. As New Zealand’s economy is slowly recuperating from a sluggish 2018, when annual GDP growth fell to 2.8% from 3.6% just two years prior, maintaining strong support from Australian investors is critical.
Looking across the region, robust economic cooperation could be deployed as a strategic shield in countering Chinese influence in the South Pacific. Such was the sentiment at last week’s Pacific Exposition in Auckland, which was attended by foreign ministers from Australia and New Zealand along with others in the region.
Expect today’s meeting to reaffirm strong business ties between both countries on a symbolic level. Over the medium term, this could set the stage for large joint-investment projects in the Pacific in an effort to contain Beijing’s reach into the region. One area of potential joint-investment is in telecommunications, a sector Canberra has been keen to cut off from Chinese firms.
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