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Time to get serious about Asia


Asia 2000 media release
Wednesday 26 November

Time to get serious about Asia

"New Zealanders from every walk of life have good reason to ensure New Zealand has a positive future in Asia," Asia 2000 chairman Sir Dryden Spring said after speaking to 200 participants in the Seriously Asia Forum at Parliament today.

Sir Dryden told the Forum that no other region in the world was so important to the well-being and prosperity of New Zealanders.

"Asia is changing extremely rapidly on all fronts - economically, politically and socially," Sir Dryden said. "We must make sure that we build relationships that will secure our future, and that will require a strong commitment from many players."

Participants at today's Forum were asked to prioritise proposals for practical action to drive positive relationships between New Zealand and the countries of Asia. The Forum was also addressed by senior speakers from Asian countries including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Brunei.

Proposals tabled at the Forum had been summarised from hundreds of suggestions contributed to the Seriously Asia project via its website, www.seriouslyasia.org.nz, and through nationwide workshops held over the past three months.

Proposals for action presented to the Forum included:

· improve the framework for doing business with Asia through greater coordination and transparency of New Zealand's regulatory and trade policy framework;

· optimise New Zealand's influence by enhancing political and security relations with Asia

· actively engage new residents from Asia within the wider New Zealand community, particularly through local government initiatives;

· enhance the contribution made by the export education sector;

· facilitate connections between mainstream media and ethnic news communities;

· ensure New Zealand institutions operate effectively as "NZ Inc" by examining the mandates of relevant organisations and reconfiguring if required;

· increase awareness of the opportunities, benefits and means of forming joint ventures, networks and other types of strategic alliances with partners in Asia and New Zealand;

· develop high quality positioning of New Zealand as a premium tourist destination for Asian visitors;

· implement a consistently strategic approach to the New Zealand brand in Asia to help strengthen trade, tourism and education links.

Asia 2000 executive director Christopher Butler said a summary of the Forum would be published in two weeks time and a full report early in the New Year.

"This Forum is a beginning," he said. "Asia 2000 will be working with a wide variety of government, business, educational and community organisations to promote action on the recommendations. We will be reporting back on progress late next year."

ENDS

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