Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 24. 26th September 1973
Govt. aid to Portuguese trade
Govt. aid to Portuguese trade
Despite Mr Kirk's recent criticisms of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, and his statement that Cabinet Ministers will steer clear of the Portuguese trade mission currently visiting New Zealand, the Government is quietly encouraging trade with Portugal.
Replying to criticism from "The Dominion", Mr Kirk stated on September 6 that the Government's policy of not embracing Portugal too enthusiastically was based on "our opposition to Portuguese colonialism as a whole, diametrically opposed as its philosophy is to that which we have pursued in our small territories in the South Pacific, now almost all running their own affairs."
But an article on Portugal in the July issue of "Export News", a handout produced by the Trade and Industry Department for New Zealand exporters, gives quite a different impression and encourages exporters to trade with the Portuguese.
There is no hint in this article that the Labour Government does not want to embrace Portugal too enthusiastically. Nor is there any suggestion that the Portuguese are, in Mr Kirk's words, "holding down by force the legitimate wishes of the people of several large territories to have a choice in their own affairs and shape their own future."
In fact the article paints a very favourable picture of current developments in Portugal. It glosses over the fact that the country is governed by a fascist dictatorship, and, adopting Portuguese terminology, describes the country's colonies as "the Portuguese overseas territories." The article claims that Portugal's economy is developing slowly but steadily, and states that the regime's Third Development Plan aims for "a more equitable distribution of income, and progressive correction of regional imbalance in development."
The people of Portugal's African colonies would regard this statement about the development plan as no more than a cruel joke. Because it is almost completely lacking natural resources Guine-Bissau, on the west coast of Africa, has been neglected by the Portuguese, while the wealthy colonies of Angola and Mozambique have been ruthlessly exploited. The article says nothing about the Portuguese Government's policy of forcing its African subject to work for starvation wages, and its total failure to provide these people with any sort of education or medical services.
"The Portuguese economy is strongly dependent on external transactions," states "Export News", without going on to say why. It is no surprise that a country which spends over 50% of its annual budget on maintaining an army of over 250,000 men in Africa badly needs overseas trade to support its economy.
While the outlook for trade with Portugal "may not be encouraging at present. New Zealand exporters would be unwise to dismiss Portugal too quickly". The article helpfully details the three most promising areas for New Zealand exporters: agricultural machinery and equipment, hotel and catering equipment (for the growing tourist business), and beef and lamb.
Contracts between New Zealand and Portugal are at present very limited. Apart from honorary consuls in Auckland and Wellington neither country has diplomatic representation in each other's capitals. In fact our main ties with Portugal are through trade. So if the Labour Government is at all sincere in its opposition to Portuguese colonialism it might be expected to point out some of the negative features of the country in its handouts to exporters.