I grew up in New Zealand, and since the land of the long white cloud straddles the international maritime boundary of England and New Zealand, it has always fascinated me that two countries could make such an important agreement, one that changed my life and the course of one of the world’s most interesting economies.
The first time I heard about the agreement was two months ago, at a New Zealand Cabinet meeting. That’s when the Hon. New Zealand Minister of Finance, @nantneybrown, announced he’d reached an agreement with his British counterpart, Hon. @GeorgeLucas, to extend the New Zealand border to include 175 miles of open water between the approaches to St. Johns Airport.
The border crossing includes nearly 200 miles of unprotected coastline, most of which overlook British sovereign waters. Virtually every vessel that sails the oceans between New Zealand and the United Kingdom is protected by British law and required to navigate under the direction of British stewards. What better way to point out the inherent unease of the relationship, then, than to extend the border line a few inches?
We make the ocean the great equalizer in international diplomacy, and the New Zealand and British joint understanding illustrates this inherent flaw in any attempt to cordon off nations in order to regulate their relationships with each other.
So now, when New Zealanders cross the British border, they do so unimpeded and there will be no fines for accidentally exceeding the New Zealand maritime border line, no penalties for illegally landing on British territorial waters, and a free-trade agreement between the two countries that has the potential to boost the burgeoning economies of both. This is the modern day Great Game with a maritime side.
What does it mean for me? In simple terms, it means I get to cross the border back and forth easier, I can send more freight back and forth between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and my trucking network can grow and expand.
It also means that I get to make money importing and exporting more equipment, and it means I can invest more of my hard-earned New Zealand dollars to purchase fuel and groceries, contribute to New Zealand society more, and spend it in this beautiful country of my birth. And because I live in a free trade zone, I can buy and sell goods from the rest of the world, which helps my local economy grow, as well.
Does that mean that I am getting a free pass to roam around freely? Of course not. I have to pay border taxes and apply for work visas and not want for food and housing. It’s a different type of freedom that involves both administrative and market-related transactions. But what it does mean is a lot more freedom to move products and people throughout the countries that share the vast Pacific Ocean. This is powerful, and a victory for the betterment of both my native country and my adopted homeland, the United Kingdom.