Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Zealand's Optimism Ambassador

There was some great news out of New Zealand last month when it was announced that Mike Moore had been made the next Ambassador to the US. I have had very positive relationships with his predecessors, Roy Fergusson and Jim Bolger, and caught up with Mike at the US-NZ Business Council meeting in DC last year (I serve as Business Ambassador for that group).

Mike Moore has an eye-popping résumé. First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1972 at the age of 23, he became New Zealand's barnstorming Trade Minister in the 1980s. He built a global reputation by tackling the unfair and anti-competitive trade practices of Britain, Europe and the US that victimize NZ agricultural producers (and still do!). He was briefly Prime Minister, and stayed on as Opposition Leader until 1993.

Mike is widely admired as a great communicator about, and tireless champion for, free and open markets as a means to greater prosperity and freedom in all corners of the world. That explains why, in 1999, he rose to become Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

In 2009, Mike published his tenth book, "Saving Globalization: Why Globalization and Democracy Offer the Best Hope for Progress, Peace and Development". It is a rollicking, ebullient read. In the author’s words, “the purpose of this book…is to champion, unashamedly and unapologetically, the essential ingredients of freedom”. He is a self-described “reckless optimist” who turns his impressive rhetorical firepower on the baseless negativity we hear about the world. Surveying the past 30 years, he notes:

“The Soviet Empire imploded and retreated without firing a shot. Most of Central America, all of South America and half of Europe, and South Africa has come out from under the jackboot of military and command economies… people power has exploded everywhere…the Philippines, Indonesia, Peru, Chile and South Korea…Extremists threaten, bomb and maim, but continually fail to extinguish this wave of optimism.”
This is a powerful book from an impressive man. The NZ-USA relationship is in radically optimistic hands.