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Seriously Asia Targets Growth

PRESS RELEASE

SERIOUSLY ASIA TARGETS GROWTH

If New Zealand is serious about economic growth it needs to get serious about Asia.

Asia 2000 Foundation chairman Sir Dryden Spring says the three-month Seriously Asia programme, launched in Auckland today by Prime Minister Helen Clark, is a reality check for New Zealand.

"Asian economies outperformed the world for a generation and their growth this year is expected to be between five and six percent. New Zealand's is expected to grow at around two percent. That's the equation we have to think about," Sir Dryden says.

"Asia's dynamic markets and societies can help unlock New Zealand's wealth potential and bring greater prosperity to all New Zealanders. The truth, though, is that New Zealand needs Asia more than Asia needs us. We need to go the extra mile to do business and forge stronger links.

"The Seriously Asia initiative is about injecting real energy into our relationships with the countries of Asia," he says. "That's not just about business. It means doing better across the whole range of social and cultural connections too."

Seriously Asia is supported jointly by the Government and private sector sponsors, and managed by the Asia 2000 Foundation. It is the most comprehensive attempt yet to gather the views and knowledge of New Zealanders on practical ways of creating stronger links with Asia.

Four Seriously Asia issues groups - drawn from people with networks and connections to Asia - will pull together views from business, community interests, educators and the general public on how New Zealand can work better with Asia.

A key tool in gathering information will be an interactive website, http://www.seriouslyasia.org.nz/ , offering all interested individuals and organisations the opportunity to give their perspective, and ideas for practical action.

Workshops will be held around the country as another means of gaining and sharing knowledge and ideas from business and community sources.

Feedback will be worked into practical proposals in four key areas covered by the issues groups: trade, investment and tourism; political and security; innovation and sustainable development; and society and culture.

Priority goals will be identified at a one day Asia Forum in Wellington on November 26, which will feature high-profile guest speakers from around the Asian region.

"We're confident that Seriously Asia will produce concrete ideas that will lead to action by key players across sectors", Sir Dryden says. "Asia 2000 will be monitoring the outcomes."

"What we're asking New Zealanders to do is to see the real world. Asia is neither distant nor unfamiliar, but very much a part of our daily life and a large influence on our future," he says.

Seriously Asia is sponsored by partners Fonterra, LG Electronics, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts; supporters Grand Hotels International and Singapore Airlines; and friends Investment New Zealand and the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.

ENDS

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