5 Mar 2018

Watch: Simon Bridges critical of govt's foreign policy 'reset'

9:50 am on 5 March 2018

New National Party leader Simon Bridges disagrees with the 'tone' of the new government's approach to foreign policy.

The government has kicked off what it calls the "Pacific reset" with Jacinda Ardern beginning her first trip to the region as Prime Minister.

It comes off the back of the Foreign Minister Winston Peters promising to boost aid and embark on a new strategy with New Zealand's Pacific neighbours.

Mr Peters also hinted the government might rethink China's One Belt One Road initiative.

Mr Bridges said he disagrees with a shift in trade relations.

"It's the most dynamic and exciting part of the world that we're tied to," he told Morning Report.

"It's the second biggest economy in the world."

Watch Simon Bridges on Morning Report:

Mr Bridges said he was unsure whether Mr Peters was talking about his party's position or if it was the position of the wider government.

Mr Bridges also bristled at the idea of a "reset" in the Pacific, arguing that the National Party not only gave aid to the region but increased it during its tenure.

On the subject of US President Donald Trump's recent threats of a trade war, Mr Bridges said New Zealand should be seeking an exemption on tariffs and stressed that "protectionism doesn't work."

"If it happens, it's a concern. Let's hope it doesn't."

Canada and the European Union said any tariffs against their exporters will result in countermeasures, but the Trade Minister, David Parker, says New Zealand will not follow suit.

Mr Parker said while steel and aluminium don't make up a large part of the country's exports, the ambassador Tim Groser, will be talking to US officials.

"The wider concern is we've got rising protectionism in the world and threats of retaliation," he said.

"It's important to show restraint so that these retaliations don't spiral into further escalation and trade wars.