Although it would not be politic for it to say so publicly,
the Beehive will be quietly pleased Barack Obama has won the
US presidential election.
Truth be told, a Mitt Romney victory would not have made much
of an appreciable difference to Washington-Wellington
But Obama offers one commodity Romney's bid could not -
continuity in a rapidly improving relationship.
Although George Bush junior's Republican Administration made
a concerted effort between 2000 and 2008 to get around New
Zealand's anti-nuclear policy, major gains have come in the
past four years under Obama.
Those gains include "normalisation" of the defence
relationship, with the resumption of joint military exercises
and the signing of a new defence co-operation pact.
It is most unlikely that a Romney presidency would have
reversed those changes. But further progress - such as a New
Zealand port visit by an unquestionably non-nuclear American
naval vessel - would have been much less in prospect than it
might be under Obama.
Had Romney won, there would have been a forced hiatus in the
relationship while the new President conducted a clean-out
and his appointees awaited congressional approval before
taking up their new roles.
The continuity assured by Obama's victory is important to New
Zealand for other reasons.
First, the pressure is now squarely on the President to get
the American economy growing again. That can only be good
news for New Zealand exporters.
Second, the emphasis on the economy is a major factor in
Obama's enthusiasm for a high-quality free trade arrangement
in parts of Asia and the Pacific Rim through the Trans
Pacific Partnership (TPP).
In turn, the TPP is seen by National and Labour as a
back-door means to score a de facto free trade agreement with
A Romney victory would have likely caused further delay in
the already-protracted negotiations.
Obama can now press for a deal without having to worry so
much about being punished by a potential domestic
- John Armstrong of the NZ Herald