A former National MP and NZ First “bagman” has proposed a plan to get New Zealand ready to profit from any opening up of North Korea that may occur after the talks between President Trump and Kim Il Sung.
Ross Meurant has put a proposal to Foreign Minister Winston Peters to finance a Kapa Haka group to go to North Korea. as a forerunner to building up exports of New Zealand food to the country. …
And it may be that he is the inspiration behind Winston Peters’ recent proposal for a Free Trade Agreement with North Korea — – an idea that even one of the Labour MPs closest to Peters, Trade Minister David Parker dismissed as a joke.
But there have been more to Peters’ comments than Parker realised.
Peters and Meurant were once close political allies, and Meurant acted as NZ First’s “bagman” collecting donations for the party from 1999 to 2204.
People have often speculated as to why Peters was so insistent that NZ pursue a FTA with Russia. He has opposed pretty much every other FTA ever and has long campaigned as a protectionist.
It would seem a reasonable assumption that the moves towards trade with both Russia and North Korea come as a result of Ross Meurant’s influence. Meurant is, as stated, the former fundraiser for Winston First.
So Ross Meurant seems to be a short of Shadow Foreign Minister for NZ, with more influence over policy that MFAT.
Matthew Hooton also writes:
Tough UN sanctions backed by the threat of imprisonment under New Zealand law mean only a handful of New Zealand businesspeople currently have any links with North Korea.
One of the few is Ross Meurant, who was Peters’ part-time agriculture, forestry, fishing and racing adviser from 1999 to 2004, when he resigned after it was revealed he was also working for Simunovich Fisheries and Barine Developments who were involved in the scampi inquiry. …
If something ever does come from Peters’ work to help normalise North Korea’s relationship with the rest of the world, Meurant will be well-placed to help other New Zealand businesspeople make their first approaches to the hermit kingdom.
Peters’ musings about an FTA with North Korea are therefore more explicable than Bennett suggested.
I’m not sure of the current relationship between Ross Meurant and Winston, but it certainly does look like most of Winston’s musings on foreign policy and trade are in line with Meurant’s and very beneficial to him.