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Business Update on the Middle East for Exporters

Media Release 25 September 2001

Business Update on the Middle East for Exporters

New Zealand exporters selling to the Middle East are being urged by
Trade New Zealand to assess all the facts when making business decisions about their trade to the region.

Senior Trade Commissioner based in Dubai, Gavin Young, says Trade New Zealand can provide factual advice on the current situation in each of New Zealand’s major and distinct export markets across South Asia and the Middle East.

Trade NZ has staff in New Delhi, Karachi, Ankara, Riyadh and Dubai and a network of contacts throughout the region. Staff in the region are fielding many questions from New Zealand exporters on current conditions.

Mr Young says it is important to remember that there are opportunities for New Zealand exporters in the region despite the recent events in the US and their possible impact on central Asia.

"We're able to report a calm situation throughout all of New Zealand’s key markets. Staff have been out in the market talking to businesses over the past week to gain the local perspective on risk and reality. What we are seeing is business as usual in most sectors," he says.

Mr Young acknowledges that there are many possible risk scenarios, as there are at any time for any market.

"However, our people on the ground are able to give direct advice to exporters on what is actually happening from a security and business perspective, to allow for informed decision-making.”

Mr Young says it is important for New Zealand exporters to stand by their customers and to take a longer-term view.

"Trade New Zealand is assisting by undertaking customer visits and in advising exporters on their visit plans."

At this stage, Saudi embassies appear not to be issuing visit visas to New Zealand exporters. Exporters should ensure they can get a visa first before confirming visit plans.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a travel advisory for Pakistan warning against all but essential travel.

In Dubai there have been a number of cancellations to both business and tourist travel, principally from the US and Europe. This is impacting on hotel occupancy and food sales.

"Longer term if the situation continues it could flow through to the construction sector, where a large number of new hotels are in the planning phases. Slowdowns in both of these areas could affect New Zealand exports," says Mr Young.

However, there are some emerging opportunities. "Our Dubai office is aware of UAE nationals who have changed travel plans from North America to New Zealand at 24 hours' notice. We have also heard that there is concern over sending students to North America and New Zealand is being seen as a “safe” alternative. One agent has approached us about undertaking a series of New Zealand only education seminars in October."

"Other local businesses in the transport sector which import products from New Zealand see opportunities to expand sales given the present situation."

New Zealanders and other expatriates in the region have been advised to keep a low profile. There is increased airport security and exporters should allow extra time for processing on departure.

For more information:

Gavin Young
Senior Trade Commissioner
Tel 00 971 4 331 7500

Ian Stockwell
Market Services Manager
Tel 04 496 6412

Distributed by Tracey Palmer, Trade New Zealand, Communications, tel (09) 915 4223

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