Despite the distance Aotearoa New Zealand has from Europe, there are still business impacts to consider when it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Undoubtedly, the last few years has seen the world experience disruptions that could not have been anticipated. Covid-19 is a clear example of this, and now, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is another.
New Zealand’s distance from the military action may have many of our members unconcerned, but the flow on affects warrant deeper thought. The most significant impacts will be indirect, primarily through higher fuel and commodity prices, financial market volatility, rising anxiety, and the potential impacts to global economic activity.
For many of our key trading partners, particularly in Europe, the impact will be greater.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s stance to Russia’s actions
On 3 March 2022, the UN General Assembly resolution demanded to end the Russian war in Ukraine.
On 8 March, the New Zealand Government passed the Russia Sanctions Act. The Act intends to join the international community in applying tougher sanctions that will severely limit Russia’s ability to finance and equip the war on Ukraine, and to influence people with power in Russia to break their support for the invasion. The Act targets individuals and companies economically or strategically important to Russia.
On 16 March, the International Court of Justice ruled that “the Russian Federation shall immediately suspend military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine”.
The New Zealand Russia Sanctions Act and underlying UN resolutions are likely to limit the ability of organisations to be affiliated with any international organisations with links to Russia.
How does this impact HERA and the mahi (work) we do?
HERA is a long standing member of the International Institute of Welding (IIW). Regrettably, since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been no communication from them clarifying their official position concerning this war.
For this reason, several IIW members, including HERA and Weld Australia, have written to the IIW to request clarification. This step has been taken, as it could be viewed that IIW’s continued support for the Russian welding industry in turn supports the manufacture and maintenance of Russian military equipment where it requires welded components.
In addition, Weld Australia has also asked for Russian membership of the IIW to be suspended immediately subject to a formal resolution at the next AGM, and for the Ukrainian Welding Society to receive free membership until such time as the Ukrainian economy has been restored.
What action can you take to be compliant with the Russia Sanctions Act?
HERA has taken steps to ask IIW for clarification on their stance, and are also in the process of checking with other organisations we are members of that might have connections to Russia.
This has been a good exercise for us, as it has allowed us to explore whether the organisations we are associated with truely align with our own values. An example of this, is the response from Responsible Steel, which demonstrates their strong stance to support Ukraine by suspending auditing services for those considered to have significant operations in, or substantive connection to, the Russian Federation.
Similarly, our members can consider how this Act may impact them too.
In fact, some of our members have already taken swift action to support Ukrainian citizens “during this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russia on Ukraine”.
Examples of support that could be considered or that we are aware already exist include:
- Some of our members establishing a Ukraine Relief Fund supported by a donation scheme where the company matches staff donations 1:1;
- Providing donations more generally through initiatives such as the one established by airbnb.org which looks to help house Ukraine refugees;
- As HERA has done, consider your business relationships with entities that may have connections to Russia and query/seek their public position on this matter – hopefully leading to more direct business sanctions on Russia; and
- Consider how your staff may be impacted and how your business can support them.
To finish, I wanted to end this article with something one of our members, Greg Jensen of Jensen Steel Fabricators shared: “Beyond the need to be compliant, there is a human element we must acknowledge. We in the Western world need to treasure the freedoms we have – they are not something to be taken for granted. What Ukraine is currently going through reminds us why, and collectively, we owe a huge debt to them.”
Food for thought to consider as you weigh up what your actions will be in regard to the conflict occurring in Ukraine.