PMs negotiating with corporates

A Dim-Post reader asked:

When was the last time a directly negotiated with a multinational?

In the comments, Matthew Hooton made an interesting point:

All prime ministers meet often with executives from multinationals who tell them what their intentions are in NZ and what policy changes if any might encourage them to increase (or decrease) their investments here.

Prime ministers might then comment on that, or get their ministers to, and a letter might be sent back, and there might be a further letter … or the ideas raised in the meetings might just get integrated into future policy development without acknowledgment.

This is not only to be expected but essential given NZ’s low savings rate and dependence on foreign capital.

However, as far as I can remember, the idea of a prime minister being in the room, looking them in the eye, negotiating backwards and forwards, over a short period of time … well, as far as I know, that is extremely unusual, mostly because of the sheer political recklessness of it. If it goes wrong, you as prime minister are in the room when it goes wrong and are therefore accountable.

The situation we’ve seen this week relies on:
1. The prime minister believing themselves capable of carrying out the negotiations
2. Their staff believing their prime minister to be capable of carrying out the negotiations, so not scheduling things to prevent it
3. The prime minister in fact being capable of carrying out the negotiations when they began
4. The prime minister being prepared to carry out the negotiations (ie, not being so haughty as to think such negotiations were below his or her station.)

In my view, only Key, of recent PMs, gets four yesses to these questions.
Clark would have been yes, yes, yes and no.
Shipley would have been yes, yes, no and no.
Bolger would have been yes, no, yes and no.
Moore would have been yes, no, yes and yes.
Palmer would have been yes, yes, no and no.
Lange would have been yes, yes, no and no.
Muldoon would have been “The SIS has got pictures of you and I’ll change the law to make you make the movies here.”

Heh that Muldoon theory is on the money.

Anyway let us look at those suggested qualities one by one, according to Matthew:

The prime minister believing themselves capable of carrying out the negotiations – all of them

Their staff believing their prime minister to be capable of carrying out the negotiations, so not scheduling things to prevent it – Key, Clark, Shipley, Palmer and Lange but not Bolger & Moore

The prime minister in fact being capable of carrying out the negotiations when they began – Key, Clark, Bolger and Moore but not Shipley, Palmer and Lange

The prime minister being prepared to carry out the negotiations (ie, not being so haughty as to think such negotiations were below his or her station – Key and Moore but not Clark, Shipley, Bolger, Palmer and Lange

It’s an interesting analysis.

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