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Trade Minister to visit Japan and Hong Kong

Trade Minister to visit Japan and Hong Kong

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton is to visit Japan and Hong Kong.

Mr Sutton will leave New Zealand on February 24, travelling to the Japanese capital city, Tokyo.

While in Tokyo, Mr Sutton will meet counterparts to discuss bilateral and multilateral trade issues, as well as members of the New Zealand business community and Japanese business organisations.

"Japan, as the second largest economy in the world, has a crucial role to play in helping get a comprehensive round of multilateral trade talks underway," Mr Sutton said.

"My visit to Japan is overdue given the importance and scale of the Japanese market and our relationship with Japan. Japan is our second largest trading partner. Exports to Japan are now around NZ$ 3.6 billion. The increase in our exports in the September year (NZ$ 712 million) was greater than our total exports to Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia or Singapore in the same period."

Mr Sutton will travel north to Hokkaido for a day and a half to engage directly with Japan's highly protected agricultural sector and to assist with trade promotion and constituency building activities.

"Hokkaido is an important market for New Zealand products ? I am assisting Meat NZ and the Squash Marketing Council in a major promotion of lamb and squash in Sapporo."

Exports of squash to Japan are valued at about $90 million a year, while lamb exports are valued at $40 million.

On his way back from Japan, Mr Sutton will stop over in Hong Kong, to sign the Working Holiday Agreement. The agreement, which allows young people from Hong Kong to work in New Zealand and vice versa, is the first such agreement signed by Hong Kong.

He also plans to meet Commerce and Industry Secretary Brian Chau, to discuss trade issues in APEC and the WTO. Exploratory talks on a Closer Economic Partnership trade agreement with Hong Kong are continuing.

ENDS

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