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Comments by Charles Finny To NZUS Council

Comments by Charles Finny, CEO, Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce to the New Zealand United States Council, 22 August 2006

Jim Bolger, Chairman of the New Zealand United States Council, Ambassador Bill McCormick, Ministers Cunliffe and Laban, Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, especially those visiting from Washington, the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce is both delighted to be welcoming you here this evening, and also to be continuing our close association with the New Zealand United States Council.

The relationship with the United States is of critical importance to the Wellington business community. It is for this reason that we have been giving high priority to working with the New Zealand United States Council to make the relationship an even closer one. Over the last year we think we have made very good progress. The delegation that went to Washington in April, and the meeting that was held there with the United States New Zealand Council, was in large part the reason for this.

This meeting made it very clear that we have the opportunity to build a relationship with the United States that is different to that which existed prior to the ANZUS rift, but one which has the potential to be just as close – if not closer. And aside from being closer, it has the potential to be far broader than the one that existed prior to the mid-1980s.

At the Wellington Chamber we want to play our role in the broadening and developing of the relationship. It would be great if we can move quickly to start negotiations on an FTA, but even if this doesn’t happen we see particular scope to make new progress on expanding education linkages, and also linkages in the policy response to climate change with the United States. We want to assist the existing bilateral dialogue in this area, but would also be keen to see how New Zealand might participate in the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

To this end we are organizing a half day dialogue on 7 September. Our goal, similar to that for the New Zealand United States relationship, is to encourage more of a bipartisan approach to climate change policy, a meeting of minds between business and Government on sensible domestic policy responses, and some agreement on what complements might be possible, such as the Asia Pacific Dialogue, to the important Kyoto process.

I hope that many of you will be able to attend this 7 September event. A strong reason for the progress in the New Zealand United States relationship has been the removal of the relationship as an issue of domestic political difference. We are confident that similar progress can be made on the policy response to climate change if it too is de-politicised.

Thank you again for being here. Enjoy the rest of your evening.

ENDS

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