logo logo

Free trade deal hinges on PM’s charm offensive

New Zealand Herald, Auckland

Fran O’Sullivan: Free trade deal hinges on PM’s charm offensive

By Fran O’Sullivan

8 September 2012

Vladimir Putin has serious form in the macho stakes: He’s tranquilised a Siberian tiger to save a TV crew, attached a tracking device to a polar bear, ridden horses bare-chested and was this week filmed at the sharp end of a motorised hang-glider (suitably frocked-up in a white jump suit and goggles) teaching young cranes to fly on a new migration path.

He is also an ex KGB-head, a judo black belt and flier of fighter aircraft.

"So Mr President, with all your street cred and political bravura what’s stopping you doing a free trade deal with New Zealand? ... We’re just 4.4 million people to your 140 million ... There’s nothing to be afraid of? ... Let’s just get this deal closed so we can announce a free trade deal that will benefit both our peoples at a time when we must all take bold steps to ensure economic growth."

Of course that’s not how John Key will play out New Zealand’s position when he amps up the charm-meter for his face-to-face meeting with the President of the Russian Federation on Russky Island late this afternoon.