ABAC dinner with PM John Key

Earlier this month, I had the privelege of attending the annual APEC Advisory Business Council (ABAC) dinner hosted by the NZ International Business Forum, where the PM briefs members of the business community on what happened at APEC. This year, there’s lots to say about the economy and the PM has just arrived back from the East Asia Summit, Malaysia-NZ FTA, CHOGM, and about to go to Copenhagen.

Ken with PM John Key

The PM talked about 3 key issues:

1) Global interconnectedness. Synchronised recession is illustrative of this. Deep recessions will become more common as economies become more interdependent.

2) Global imbalances. PM cited a savings imbalance, with the West being funded by the East. He thinks the yuan will have to appreciate (given his background as Head of FX for Merrill Lynch, I was thinking whether to start hoarding some yuan) . The major issue is US consumers won’t spend.

The Americans are looking for 20m jobs (7m unemployed plus 13m coming into workforce).

3) Climate change. Unless the big boys (US, China etc) are involved, we can’t change things. It is more of a problem than people think, and will hit faster and with more severity.As the bulk of energy (70%) in NZ already come from renewable sources, and 50% of emissions is from agriculture, addressing this will be a big challenge.

The Q&A was pretty fascinating. One guy asked a serious question “If we want to catch Australia

why not just merge with them?” The PM’s response: I just got back from CHOGM where Australian PM Kevin Rudd asked me the same question. My response was I’m too busy running New Zealand to run Australia as well. This guy can be very funny. I do think John Key is more in touch with the masses than Helen Clark; and has a way with both CEOs as well as joe public. Perhaps this explains his 80% favourability rating throughout a very difficult year.

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