20 Jul

Pacific perspectives from a far flung World Trader


Liveryman Bevan Killick recently joined fellow World Traders for a virtual breakfast meeting, speaking all the way from New Zealand.

Bevan introduced his subject with a brief historical overview, focusing on the last 250 years since Captain James Cook first landed on shore in New Zealand in 1769, where indigenous Maori people (and their predecessors) had been settled for hundreds of years.

A key reference point was the first successful shipment of frozen meat to the UK in 1882 which paved the way for trade in frozen meat and dairy products – the cornerstone for 20th century New Zealand economy.

The entry of the UK into the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 was greeted “with dismay” in New Zealand and led to a huge drop in exports to the UK. However, over 50 years later, “Brexit” provides an opportunity for New Zealand to target tariff removal and the re-building of a vibrant NZ/UK trade partnership.

In the meantime, the trading world had changed: China is now New Zealand’s biggest export market followed by Australia, US and Japan. UK lies far behind in trade volume in 6th place, and the principal commodity is wine. Dairy products, especially dried milk, are now New Zealand’s main export commodity with meat products in second place.

Bevan touched informally on the changed geo-political context noting the growing influence of China in the Pacific region and the important priority that New Zealand now gives to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) group of countries. PIF was founded in 1971 as an inter-governmental organisation focusing on trade, economic development and peacekeeping. It comprises of 18 members.

Trade and trade security will always be critical for New Zealand, but Bevan explained how climate change and “first nation” matters are also high on the agenda.

Subsequent questions “from the floor” revealed a lively interest in Bevan’s talk and also a clear acknowledgement of his status as a trusted WCWT friend.

Master Mary Hardy thanked Bevan for the very engaging NZ-eye tour of history and trade, and attendees showed their full appreciation in the usual way.

Paul Williams