May update: new paper, more China, the TPP, and spying in the Pacific

Hello and welcome to an NZADDs email update,

First up, we’re happy to announce a new NZADDs Working Paper. The Paper by Emma Mawdsley, Warwick Murray, John Overton, Regina Scheyvens and Glenn Banks is called ‘Sharing Prosperity? A Comparative Analysis of Aid Policy in New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the 2010s’, and you can download it here.

Next up, the OECD has just released preliminary data on 2014 aid flows. Between 2013 and 2014 New Zealand aid as a share of GNI increased from 0.26 per cent to 0.27 per cent, which sees us ranked 13th equal, alongside Australia, in terms of ‘generosity’ amongst DAC aid donors.

The New Zealand Aid Programme is currently refining its new strategic plan. The latest revision is under way and summary documents from the recent partnerships meetings can be found here (draft investment priorities by region), here (more detail on investment priorities) and here (Jonathan King’s overview PowerPoint). We’ll have more commentary on this in an upcoming blog. For now, you can check-out NZADDs’ comments to MFAT on the draft Strategic Plan.

In additional New Zealand aid reading, following his attendance at an aid partnerships meeting, Otago University academic Kevin Clements wrote a blog post arguing powerfully that New Zealand aid as it is currently given is deeply flawed.

On the aid data front, the Lowy institute has produced an excellent interactive resource on Chinese aid flows to the Pacific.

Sticking with China, given the rush amongst other countries to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it seems like New Zealand must have joined (readers will recall that when we inquired last the NZ government said it couldn’t make up its mind). Various sources now report us as a signatory (see here, here and here). Will the bank be a good feature on the development landscape? Certainly, given the range of countries now signed up, our earlier concerns about a preponderance of autocracies amongst the bank’s membership is no longer an issue, but practice may still be. For those interested in this question former IMF head, Kenneth Rogoff has an interesting column for Project Syndicate on what good practice might look like and what its prospects are (you may need to sign in, but access is free). Also, this ABC piece, towards the bottom, has a crude but interesting tool for guestimating who will have the bulk of decision making power at the new bank, and contrasts this to other development banks.

Meanwhile, in the world of trade agreements – the TPP in particular – the Australian National University’s Menzies Centre for Health Policy has a You Tube broadcast of a recent, and very informative, session on the potential health ramifications of the TPP, based on global experience. Watch it here (audio plus PowerPoint). Perhaps the most important point to note about the trade agreement is that the real issue at stake is not actually international trade (which, overall, is usually a net good) but the rules that are negotiated for governing it — rules such as who can sue who for what and how long patents last. In the case of the TPP these rules may bring large costs for little gain, and will likely tie the hands of future governments. Australian economist John Quiggin has an excellent explanation of the perils of the agreement here. And NZ economist Gareth Morgan also does a good job explaining matters here. Along these lines, we’d love some sort of explanation why the New Zealand government appears to be signing up to this part of the TPP.

Most of you following NZ’s activities while on the Security Council will be regularly reading the NZ website:  It provides a useful summary of NZ’s statements to the Security Council. New Zealand has made some strong statements and engaged thoughtfully on a number of important issues. As yet, the website offers no information on the government’s strategy to progress the Security Council reform agenda they campaigned on, but hopefully that will come soon.

Finally, although it’s old news now (see a good blog here), this is a message that ought to be repeated until the cows come home: “Dear New Zealand government, spying on Pacific Island governments is dubious. Maybe it can be justified as part of the new great game of politics in our region. But it’s a little hard to see how it fits in with trying to build mutually respectful relationships with Pacific states. And even if spying on states can be justified, there is no justification whatsoever for spying on civil society organisations such as Forum Solomon Islands International, which are legitimate, and engaged in the good-governance promoting work New Zealand claims to support. If they are a threat to our interests, what on earth are our interests?”