AuthorFinny, Charles
PositionBook review


Author: Stephen Hoadley

Published by: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Wellington, 297 pp, $40.

As I said at the official launch of Stephen Hoadley's book, I am very pleased that it has been written. This is a very important topic for a medium-sized trade dependent economy that is both relatively remote from key markets and which has a comparative advantage in the production of meat and dairy products --two of the most protected product areas in global trade. We now have a comprehensive analysis that serves both as a good introductory history of the subject and text that can be used by both students and officials new to the increasingly controversial subject of international trade policy. Before anything else can I stress that I commend this book to those interested in the subject who have not yet purchased it. It is a good book written in an approachable way. Experts and non-experts will get much from it. The book is also timely as we have passed through another election campaign where trade policy featured, and when we face tough decisions on whether to launch negotiations with the European Union.

I was pleased to hear at the launch that the author intended this work to be something of a living project. He foreshadowed future editions that would incorporate new information and suggested improvements. The book does contain some annoying errors that can easily be cleaned up. On p.22 Hoadley seems to be suggesting that the United States was 'at the core' of the Cairns Group. It has never been a member. On p.147 he says that Bolger was elected prime minister in October 1999 (it was 1990). On p.268 he downplays the value of the Uruguay Round outcome on agriculture. This was much more positive than he suggests. And, most inexcusably of all, he spells my surname wrong in the index and in a footnote (he does spell it correctly in the text on p.200, for which I am grateful).

Reading this book reminded me of, some years ago, reading a thesis from a student writing about the 1988 CER review. No-one in New Zealand knew more about this subject than me. I was the government coordinator of this exercise. I prepared every position, attended every consultation, wrote every Cabinet paper and participated in every moment of the actual negotiations (formal and informal). The thesis was wonky in parts. But this was not altogether surprising as the principal interviewee was a then senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs...

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