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All roads lead to Washington for NZ business group

Media release – 3 April 2006

All roads lead to Washington for NZ business group

Leading figures from business, government and the academic community from both New Zealand and the United States will participate in a significant meeting in Washington this month.

New Zealand United States Council Chairman Rt Hon Jim Bolger today confirmed that the US NZ Partnership Forum will be held in Washington DC 20–22 April, 2006.

“The Forum is a major non-governmental initiative. It will provide a focus for leaders from both countries to discuss key business issues and build relationships with an overall aim of strengthening the foundations of friendship between New Zealand and the United States.”

The Partnership Forum will be co-chaired for the US by former US Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter and the distinguished former Senator and current Disney Corporation Chairman George Mitchell. Two former Prime Ministers, Jim Bolger and Mike Moore, will co-chair on the New Zealand side.

Releasing the list of 37 New Zealand participants (see below), Mr Bolger said the Forum had attracted some of New Zealand’s leading business people. Companies exporting both goods and services will be involved at senior level, including Air New Zealand, ANZCO Foods, Fonterra, Jade Corporation, NZ Post, Solid Energy and PPCS. Other companies with major US interests including Deloitte, Trends Publishing and Assignment Group also form part of the team.

The Government will be represented by two Ministers, Trade Minister Phil Goff and Immigration Minister David Cunliffe, as well as the heads of five government agencies. National Party representatives will also participate alongside the Council of Trade Unions, Business NZ and the Chambers of Commerce. Leading academics, research and educational organisations will also contribute to the Forum.

“This is a truly non partisan group. It reflects the significance which New Zealand business attaches to the US relationship. The US is a lifeline to the global economy. We cannot afford to ignore a market approaching 300 million people,” said Mr Bolger.

In Washington, the New Zealand delegation will be joined by a similar group of business and government representatives. Senior officials from the Bush Administration, including Commerce Undersecretary Frank Lavin and Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill will address the Forum.

”The level of engagement from the States has been extremely positive. The US participants are those who have a direct stake in the New Zealand economy or who recognise the relevance of New Zealand to US global interests. We’ve also had excellent collaboration from our counterpart in Washington, the United States New Zealand Council,” Mr Bolger said.

Mr Bolger said that the focus of the meeting went beyond the prospect of a free trade agreement with the United States. While the Council continued to push for an FTA, the US was currently busy with some significant negotiations and there were a lot of other issues that could be progressed in a shorter timeframe.

“Instead of waiting around, we’re saying, ‘yes, ultimately we want an FTA, but in the short term let’s get on with business". There are a number of ways we can form an even closer relationship.”

The Forum’s agenda focuses on identifying key trends in the Asia Pacific region and possibilities for co-operation between the private sectors in both countries. Other global, economic and trade themes relevant to business, including security, energy and trade will also be discussed.

Mr Bolger said the main message of the Forum is to demonstrate to an influential group in the US the enduring relevance of links with New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s relevance to the US goes beyond the opportunities in our small domestic market. There are even bigger opportunities for both of us arising from closer co-operation in the Asia Pacific region and in global markets,” concluded Mr Bolger.

The NZ US Council acknowledges the support and assistance of Air New Zealand, Fonterra, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in making this event possible.

The full New Zealand delegation is as follows:

1. Rt Hon Jim Bolger ONZ, Chairman, NZ US Council
2. Rt Hon Mike Moore ONZ
3. Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Trade, Minister of Defence
4. Hon David Cunliffe, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Communications and Information Technology
5. Hon Murray McCully MP, Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, National Party
6. Tim Groser MP, National Party
7. HE Roy Ferguson, New Zealand Ambassador to Washington
8. John Allen, Chief Executive, NZ Post
9. John Ascroft, VP Business Development, Jade Software Corp (Atlanta, GA)
10. Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce
11. Stewart Barnett, Chief Executive, PPCS Ltd
12. Stephen Collins, President, Business New Zealand
13. Peter Cullinane, Managing Director, Assignment Group
14. Martyn Dunne, Chief Executive and Comptroller of Customs, New Zealand Customs Service
15. Don Elder, Chief Executive, Solid Energy
16. Charles Finny, Chief Executive, Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry
17. Graham Fortune, Secretary of Defence
18. Greg Gent, Deputy Chairman, Fonterra Co-operative Group
19. Tim Gibson, Chief Executive, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
20. Graeme Harrison, Chairman, Anzco Foods
21. Professor Gary Hawke, Victoria University School of Government
22. Mike Hearn, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand
23. George Hickton, Chief Executive, Tourism New Zealand
24. Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director, NZ US Council
25. David Johnson, Managing Director, Trends Publishing
26. Philip Lewin, Chief Executive, Positively Wellington Business
27. Bridget Liddell, Chair, NZTE US Beachhead Programme (Medina, WA)
28. Nick Main, Chairman, Deloitte
29. Simon Murdoch, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade
30. Fran O’Sullivan, Board member, NZ US Council
31. John Palmer, Chairman, Air New Zealand
32. Mike Petersen, Board member, Meat and Wool New Zealand
33. David Skilling, Chief Executive, New Zealand Institute
34. Suzanne Snively, Chair, Fulbright Foundation
35. Philip Turner, Director, Strategy, Government and Trade, Fonterra Co-operative Group
36. Ross Wilson, President, NZ Council of Trade Unions
37. Carl Worker, Director, Americas Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

ENDS

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