Hooton flays Little on India claims

Matthew Hooton writes at NBR:

Mr Little has suggested trade negotiators and exporters of dairy and beef products should turn away from the TPP region and instead focus on India and Indonesia.

It appears the pretender to the prime ministership is unaware New Zealand already has an FTA with Indonesia as part of the historic Asean-CER deal, launched by Helen Clark in 2004 and completed by Mr Groser in 2009. As a result, bone-in meat is already tariff free and boneless cuts will become tariff free in 2020.  For dairy, almost all tariffs are now below 5% and falling.  Tariffs on wholemilk powder, butter and cheese are zero.

So one of the two countries Little suggested we focus on getting a trade agreement with, we already have! Not inspiring. But it gets better:

Mr Little’s comments about India were even more stunningly ignorant.  Did he not learn in primary school the role of the cow in Hinduism and in Indian village life?  Is he not aware the current Hindu-nationalist government is affording them further protection, including with the help of the army?

These religious beliefs mean India is the world’s biggest milk producer, with 16% of total production, and it more jealously protects its dairy producers than even the US, Canada or the EU.

The prospects for beef exporters are even worse.

There is not just a taboo around eating beef but the sale or slaughter of cows is actually illegal in 24 of India’s 29 states.  Anyone who has spent even a few days in India knows that, where beef is sold, it is done so surreptitiously in back alleys in Muslim compounds, or out of sight at flash hotels, and is usually buffalo meat anyway.  To avoid violence by Hindu extremists, McDonalds sells only chicken burgers, even dropping its lamb Maharaja Mac in 2002 to avoid confusion.

Claiming India might offer dairy and beef exporters a practical alternative to the TPP region suggests Mr Little was just blabbing about topics he knows absolutely nothing about.

This really shows how much Little is winging it and just saying whatever comes to mind, rather than having any credible position.

Maybe next Little will propose we try and target pork sales to Israel?

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