Sutton Speech To Taiwan-NZ Business Council
Hon Jim Sutton
8am, 29 August 2002
Taiwan-New Zealand Business Council meeting, Auckland
Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you for the opportunity to address this conference. Welcome, also, to those of you who are visitors to New Zealand.
Conferences such as this are valuable for establishing and strengthening business relationships between New Zealand and our trading partners. They also help us learn about each other's markets. These connections and this knowledge are vital to trading nations such as ours.
There is already a very strong economic relationship between our two economies. New Zealand/Taiwan trade has almost doubled in value in the last 10 years and now totals around $1.4 billion dollars. Taiwan is our 8th largest export market accounting for just over 2% of total New Zealand exports.
Taiwan and New Zealand are natural and complementary trading partners as is evident in the make-up of our bilateral trade. Of our exports to Taiwan last year, 70% were foods and beverages, especially milk powder and meat. In contrast 99% of Taiwan's exports to New Zealand were manufactured goods - particularly computers, machinery, metal products and textiles.
The trading relationship is aided by the fact that both Taiwan and New Zealand are relatively open compared to other economies in the Asia Pacific region. This encourages a diverse array of trading opportunities between the two markets. The New Zealand government is keen to see this partnership flourish and continue to grow.
On the multilateral front, New Zealand and Taiwan are both active members of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum and I had the privilege of meeting Minister Lin for the first time at an APEC meeting in Mexico last May.
As of 1 January this year, we are also both World Trade Organisation members and I look forward to working with closely with Mr Lin and his team in this forum. New Zealand is delighted at Taiwan's WTO membership, which enables Taiwan to play a role in the international trading system commensurate with its economic influence. Taiwan's membership will also help develop bilateral trade further, with tariffs lowering and with new products able to be sold in Taiwan for the first time. I am sure that some of you here today are seeing the benefits of Taiwan's entry into the WTO.
Already this year, the New Zealand Trade Development Centre in Taipei has been involved in product launches for persimmons, nashis and meat products ? products that New Zealand was previously unable to export to Taiwan
We are looking forward to improved access for our forestry exports, which are of particular interest to New Zealand's regional economies, such as, the East Coast of the North Island. It has been very heartening to see in the last two years Taiwan reducing barriers to trade in forest products. Recently, New Zealand timber species and sizes were written in to Taiwan's new national building standards providing another new trading opportunity.
Of course, there are other economic links.
Many Taiwanese visit New Zealand for pleasure as well as business, of course, and tourism is another significant business between our economies. More than 37,000 visitors from Taiwan experienced the many attractions of this country in the last twelve months. Taiwan is New Zealand's 9th largest source of overseas visitors with good potential for future growth.
(only if WHS is signed) This morning the important people-to-people link between New Zealand and Taiwan was strengthened with the signing of a working holiday scheme. This scheme is designed to enable young New Zealanders and Taiwanese to deepen their knowledge and experience of each other's society and culture by allowing them to live and work in a new and exciting environment for up to 12 months.
Our education links with Taiwan are also expanding.
Taiwan is now our fourth largest education market. More than 2,500 Taiwanese students studied in New Zealand last year, which represents a very encouraging increase from the 1700 students that came in 2000. The provision of education to Taiwanese students last year is estimated to be worth $50 million to this economy.
We are working with international education providers to ensure that New Zealand maintains its reputation as a safe and high quality destination for overseas students.
I expect the personal and professional relationships built through education will have a positive and lasting impact on relations between New Zealand and Taiwan in the years ahead, including the business relationship.
The New Zealand government also welcomes investment from Taiwan. We are very much aware of the importance of a strong Taiwanese migrant community in facilitating investment from Taiwan. In addition, Taiwanese applications under the business investor category have increased considerably over the past few years.
I believe New Zealand already has a special relationship with Taiwan, as it is estimated that 1% of New Zealand's population were born on the island of Taiwan.
This government is very much aware that immigration and investment work together.
There have been some exciting investments from Taiwan into New Zealand in recent years in which some of you may have been involved. Areas such as high technology and biotechnology offer promising opportunities, and we want to ensure that these opportunities are explored fully. I understand that over the next two days you will be hearing about investment opportunities in more detail.
International partnerships are a key to economic transformation. By working together in forums such as this, we can improve the wellbeing of both our economies and peoples.