Open economy evangelist

Tiny New Zealand has always punched above its weight as a trading nation, so it's no surprise that its trade minister is a passionate advocate of an open economy

New Zealand has long been known for kiwi fruit, lamb and the invincible All Blacks, the fearsome national rugby team. But in the global economic sphere, the country is also known as a champion of open economies and free trade. Last year, the country was rated the world's second-best place to do business by Forbes magazine. That helps confirm its reputation in the field of trade -- and explains why the British government chose a New Zealander to head its post-Brexit trade negotiating team.

There was no shortage of historical irony in London's announcement in June that it had chosen Crawford Falconer, a former New Zealand ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), for such a highly challenging task.

More than five decades ago, The Economist noted in an article in February, New Zealand had to negotiate with the UK when Britain first signalled its desire to enter the European Economic Community, which it finally did on 1973. That move, now dubbed "Brentry", threatened to end preferential access for New Zealand's exports to the UK, which made up 80% of its global trade at the time.

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