Independence and Foreign Policy: New Zealand in the World since 1935

By Malcolm McKinnon | Go to book overview

9. A small state in the world economy, 1965-90

As we saw in Chapter 5, the idea of economic independence was expressed primarily within the Commonwealth framework. Labour sought to promote the economic independence of New Zealand within that framework, so as to enhance its ability to maintain full employment policies. National articulated business and farmer interests within the same context. In the later 1950s and early 1960s there was change. That change accelerated in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was defined most sharply by Britain's successful negotiation of admission to the EEC, which took effect from the beginning of 1973. Politicians and diplomats coped with new realities and scholars analysed.


The new independence

New Zealand's new status in international economic relations, as a small state rather than a Commonwealth member, was underlined on numerous occasions in the late 1960s. Moreover, New Zealand found that its alliances were less meaningful in the world of commerce than in the world of diplomacy and politics.

We can see these patterns in a number of particular instances. Despite the conclusion of the free trade agreement with Australia in 1965, it was clear that the Australian market would not be a substitute for the British market, nor could Australia regard New Zealand in the same light as Britain had, as far as the making of trade policy was concerned. 'You can speak in certain arenas of emotion and warmth and loyalty, and these kind of things; carried into the field of commerce this becomes pretty thin,' said John McEwen, Australian Minister of Trade. ' Australia has a forest products industry,' he went on. ' Australia has a paper industry. It is older than yours....It is bigger than yours....it is a matter of supplying a country and industry that has been built on a basis of protection--completely....It is practically self-sufficient. That is what you have to penetrate. You can rock the boat pretty easily getting into

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