The New Zealand Herald

Todd McClay, new Trade Minister

- — Audrey Young

How are you feeling about your new job as Trade Minister?

Genuinely excited. I’m going to spend some time through the summer working out a few priorities for the next two years.

Is it your dream job?

It was one of the portfolios I was interested in when I came to Parliament. I had an involvemen­t in trade and trade negotiatio­ns overseas.

Where did you work in Europe?

In the European Parliament for some time as chief of staff to Lord Henry Plumb who was at one time president of the European Parliament but probably more importantl­y had been president of the National Farmers Union when Britain joined the European Community. So I spent many years learning about agricultur­e, and agricultur­e politics and agricultur­e trade politics from him when he was part of the European Union. I also had a lobbying company in Brussels. We lobbied on behalf of government­s and companies and I did a lot of work for New Zealand companies including the New Zealand Dairy Board at the time, which had a $1 billion fine imposed against it for importatio­n of butter to Europe outside of quota.

Will your time in Brussels give you an advantage negotiatin­g a free-trade agreement with Europe?

I think it will certainly be a help and perhaps an advantage. But we are lucky. We’ve got some of the world’s best trade negotiator­s in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and I’ll be working closely with them and relying on them.

What have you learned from ex-Trade Minister Tim Groser ?

Probably at the moment and over the next handful of months, the importance of relationsh­ips. Tim has got strong relationsh­ips with key players from important countries. What are you doing over the summer?

I’ll be with my family, taking a bit of time away.

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