Skip to comments.NEW ZEALAND: Top trade negotiator dumped
Posted on 05/22/2005 9:23:51 PM PDT by shaggy eel
New Zealand's top trade negotiator, Tim Groser, has been dumped as ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.
Mr Groser is standing as a National Party candidate in the general election - a decision Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton today described as betrayal.
Mr Groser told Mr Sutton on Friday he was retiring from the public service, but did not say when.
Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said he had been "placed on leave" and his duties taken over by deputy ambassador Tony Lynch.
"The electoral Act allows for Mr Groser to continue as an MFAT employee after the election if he is not elected," the ministry said in a statement.
"The Government has, however, decided that at this time it requires a WTO ambassador in Geneva, and it is therefore not able to keep this specific position unfilled throughout the pre-election period.
"Mr Groser will not carry out any of the duties and responsibilities of New Zealand's ambassador to the WTO."
Mr Groser holds another job at the WTO which is not decided by the Government.
He is chairman of its agricultural negotiations committee, appointed by the WTO' 148 member countries.
Mr Groser, and National Party leader Don Brash, believe it is possible to keep that job and be an MP at the same time.
That decision will be up to the Geneva-based committee, and Mr Groser is leaving tonight to talk to its members.
Mr Sutton said today there was no way Mr Groser would have got the job without being New Zealand's ambassador to the WTO.
The ministry said in its statement it would be consulting the WTO leadership about Mr Groser's chairmanship of the committee.
"In the meantime, Mr Groser is available to continue in this role," it said.
Earlier today Mr Sutton said Mr Groser seemed to think he could serve the Government and try to bring it down at the same time.
"He has let the team down. He has been one of several people in a key team," Mr Sutton said.
"Frankly to leave at this critical point is, I think, a betrayal of the debt of honour to see the job through that anyone in such a position accepts."
Green Party co-leader Rod Donald said Mr Sutton should "chill out".
"Mr Sutton is angry because he claims Mr Groser cannot support both the government of the day and National," Mr Donald said.
"Clearly he can, because their trade policies are identical."
Mr Donald said if Mr Groser wanted to continue in the job of chairing the WTO committee he should delay his swearing in as an MP until he was ready to meet those obligations.
Thanks. Saw it on NZPundit this morning. I wonder if Marian would be too moderate for "Ms" Clark? ;-)
I wonder which party the replacement will be from?
,,, that's why Marian has minders. Ups and downs are remote controlled.
Stephen Ching is Labour's great hope to drag in the Chinese votes in Auckland. He recently borrowed money from a friend who he tried to fast track thru the application process to be a Justice of the Peace, using his political connections - standing down while an inquiry is underway.
Klark has taken major hits time and time again from this sort of behaviour from her trash pile of individuals... it's inevitable. If you want to be the Minister of everything, there's too much time for your underlings to get into mischief. They're very naughty children and matron Klark should know better. She's got problem children and control of the media - but Don's got capable people and his credibilty and sense of timing are looking more and more viable day by day.
,,, how can she have any confidence in anyone who doesn't worship her?
sad but true
The Government has sent a strong signal that top trade official Tim Groser should be removed as chairman of worldwide talks worth billions of dollars to New Zealand.
Prime Minister Helen Clark made it clear yesterday that the Government had lost confidence in Mr Groser newly confirmed as a National Party candidate continuing to chair the World Trade Organisation's agricultural negotiations committee.
Mr Groser was stood down as New Zealand ambassador to the WTO yesterday, and intends to resign by the end of the week. But he wants to stay as agricultural chairman a WTO rather than New Zealand Government appointment for key negotiations to end export subsidies.
Mr Groser's term as chairman runs till December, when trade ministers meet in Hong Kong to discuss progress on the talks. The agricultural committee will also hold a crucial meeting in Geneva in July.
Miss Clark launched a stinging attack on Mr Groser, describing him as dispensable to New Zealand's cause. She signalled New Zealand expected the WTO to dump him as agricultural chairman.
"It's up to the WTO who it appoints. . . but whether the WTO would want to go down the track of employing someone who can't enjoy the confidence of a member state and has resigned as ambassador is something the WTO would want to consider.
"He was able to get that job because he was a Geneva-based trade ambassador. He will no longer be a Geneva-based trade ambassador, and that is something the WTO needs to reflect on."
Government sources said Miss Clark's comments were significant because WTO appointments were by consensus, and that was now gone.
Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Simon Murdoch said the Government would consult WTO leaders on Mr Groser's position.
But Mr Groser was adamant he could remain as chairman and said he would stay in Geneva at his expense. Finding a replacement required all 148 countries to agree, which was unlikely at this crucial stage.
National says Mr Groser can stay in Geneva rather than campaign during the election. Leader Don Brash also promised that should Mr Groser be elected, he could stay in Geneva till December.
Dr Brash accused Labour of playing politics with the national interest by opposing Mr Groser's staying on.
"It is insane to throw aside the bipartisan nature of New Zealand trade policy like this. Helen Clark should put the national interest ahead of petty party politics."
Mr Murdoch said New Zealand's deputy ambassador to the WTO, Tony Lynch, had taken over. Mr Groser could continue as an employee after the election, though the Geneva posting would not be kept open.
Mr Groser is certain to win a top-30 place on National's list, making his election highly likely.
"Control freak. YOU SAY CONTROL FREAK WHO!"
,,, if you've ever seen venom leaking out of the pits of hell, here it is.
,,, give Heather Simpson the job and Helen can make the tea and scones for her in Geneva once she loses the election.
~~~ not a pretty picture ~ pray for a National victory!
My Dad knows Steven Ching personally and I have met him on a couple of occasions. Trust me, you don't know half of him yet and this character is even worse than you imagined.
<< ,,, if you've ever seen venom leaking out of the pits of Hell, here it is. >>
That is the absolutely truest line in this thread.
Anyone who doubts the Sodomist-Marxists are other than a Sodom and Gomorrah-esqe manifestation of evil must spend more time with Edmund Burke!
,,, right on the money Brian.
Great analogy Brian!
Be Ever Vigilant!
WEDNESDAY, 25 MAY 2005
By MARTIN KAY [The DOMINION POST]
Tim Groser looks set to stay in Geneva to shepherd talks worth billions of dollars to New Zealand, after the Government backed away from calls to dump him.
In a letter to the World Trade Organisation's general council, New Zealand representative Tony Lynch says the Government accepts there is a case for Mr Groser to remain as chairman of agriculture negotiations while moves to end subsidies and tariffs approach their climax.
The letter offers to pay for Mr Groser to stay in Geneva till a crucial meeting on the Doha round in July.
"The New Zealand Government places the highest importance and priority to the successful and timely conclusion of the Doha development agenda," Mr Lynch wrote. "(It) would be prepared to consider facilitating Tim's availability to continue a chairing role, should that be the wish of the membership."
The letter contrasts sharply with the furious reaction from Prime Minister Helen Clark and Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton to Mr Groser's decision to stand for National as a list candidate in the election.
That decision meant Mr Groser had to resign as ambassador to the WTO under rules governing public servants standing for Parliament. Mr Sutton described Mr Groser's actions as a "betrayal" and Miss Clark said the Government had no confidence in him staying on as agriculture chairman.
That remark was a clear signal to the WTO's general council which appointed Mr Groser chairman that he should be dumped immediately. The chairman's appointment is based on consensus, and Miss Clark was indicating consensus had gone.
She also said the WTO should consider that Mr Groser was appointed chairman because of his role as ambassador, which he no longer held.
A spokeswoman for Mr Sutton denied the letter was a backdown, and said the Government still thought it was inappropriate for someone to stand for Parliament or be an MP while heading a non-partisan WTO post.
The Government realised, however, that Doha was at a delicate stage and it would be difficult to replace Mr Groser.
National leader Don Brash welcomed the letter to the WTO. "We are talking about agricultural trade talks which could be worth billions to New Zealand. You can't throw that away in a fit of pique."
Man, isn't she ready to drown him in a teaspoon!
The National Party's rules allow a maximum of five people to stand for the Party on the party list, without standing in an electorate. All other candidates must be on the list and standing in an electorate. Tim is one of the list candidates, and the Board and I agree that he has the potential to make an enormous contribution to New Zealand through being part of a National-led Government.
He has stood down from his position as New Zealand ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), but hopes to continue in his role as chairman of the agriculture committee of the WTO. I certainly support his doing that because of the enormous contribution he can still make in that capacity, not only to New Zealand but to world trade and prosperity more generally. I have made it clear that if, as expected, he wins a seat in Parliament, I am willing to give him leave of absence until his role as chairman of the agriculture committee comes to an end, probably in December this year. And I have agreed that because there is a widespread view among many of the members of that committee that the skills and experience which Tim brings to the committee would be very difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
I have been profoundly disappointed at the way the Labour Government has reacted to this development. After praising him enthusiastically only weeks ago, suddenly he has been accused of traitorous behaviour and being "not our first choice for the job anyway". I suppose it is this kind of petty-minded vindictiveness which gives politicians such a bad name.
How quickly Labour seems to have forgotten that the National Government under Prime Minister Jenny Shipley gave its whole-hearted support to former Labour Prime Minister Mike Moore in his bid to head the WTO in the late nineties. Why? Because Jenny Shipley recognised that New Zealand's interests in a better world trading environment could be advanced by Mike Moore, even though he had been a fierce political opponent. I would have hoped that Helen Clark's Government would have recognised New Zealand's wider interests also.
As you will have seen from today's newspapers, warnings from officials did finally get through. Helen Clark has had to backtrack from her fit of pique and the Government has confirmed Mr Groser in place in the meantime, to try to keep these important trade talks on the road.
And of course there is a precedent for a member of Parliament simultaneously undertaking an international role: Labour MP Hugh Watt took up the position of New Zealand High Commissioner in London on 22 March 1975, but was a member of Parliament until 30 October that year, more than seven months later. And I'd be happy to wager that Mr Watt's contribution to New Zealand during that seven month period was a pale shadow of what Tim Groser could achieve for New Zealand over the next seven months.
Don Brash, May 25 2003
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