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Philippines-New Zealand Business Council meeting,

Philippines-New Zealand Business Council meeting, Manila

Ladies and Gentlemen: I am very pleased to finally be in Manila as part of a brief swing through South East Asia. Asia is traditionally a very important export region for New Zealand and one that continues to evolve and to offer increasingly diversified opportunities for our products and services.

Although I have not previously made it to Manila, New Zealand is in regular dialogue with the Philippines on trade-based issues. We're fortunate that there aren't many bilateral problems to be worked through.

We are also both members of regional bodies that handle trade issues such as APEC, the Cairns Group, and the nascent AFTA-CER project. I will be returning to these later in my comments.

Only Malaysia in South East Asia imports more from New Zealand than the Philippines. Your country is the thirteenth largest market for NZ exports.

The NZ$480 million we sold to the Philippines last year was dominated by dairy products. However, I understand that an increasingly diverse range of NZ product is coming into the market and that quite a few companies are active in the consultancy and services areas.

Of course the dairy industry is our biggest export dollar area and, while it has gone through some major changes over the past few years, it is likely to remain our biggest earner. The pursuit of new high value products made from milk is relentless and essential if we are to stay at the forefront of the international dairy market, we still depend on markets to take up a lot of the basic dairy commodity product.

The Philippines is a major market for the essential basic dairy food that we all need. But as time goes on, and the range of products available increases, other dairy products will become important as well.

We've seen this in other markets as they grow. I understand that NZ Dairy Foods has recently launched a range of fresh New Zealand dairy products onto the local market here. I probably don't need to tell you just how important dairy giant Fonterra is to New Zealand. Over 65% of New Zealand export revenues come from agriculture. The dairy industry accounts for 20% of export earnings, or one of every five dollars New Zealand earns.

New Zealand is a trading nation. We depend on our export earnings in order to maintain our living standards.

So our business links overseas are especially important to us and I am always pleased to come across associations such as the Phippines-New Zealand Business Council that support and encourage commercial links with New Zealand in offshore locations.

Increasingly too, these associations are mainly local in nature and membership. I know too, that Kiwis turn up in all sorts of places round the world, though perhaps not now quite so much as do Filipinos, but there aren't that many of us to go round so we do need to active support and enthusiasm of more local business associations such as yours to help with promotion.

And of course to help you in your businesses too. Functioning effectively, the PNZBC has the potential to enhance business networks going both ways and lead to new and perhaps unexpected opportunities for all involved.

TradeNZ has a small team here in Manila, led by Net Bernales. They're doing a great job. Net was one of the first localised Trade Commissioners and has more than proved his worth in this market.

Back home in New Zealand, Trade NZ is being merged with another organization Industry New Zealand. This new body, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, will provide a one-stop shop for businesses in New Zealand looking to grow and become exporters.

We're looking for efficiencies.

What does it mean for you here in Manila? Very little. There may be a new name on the door ? possibly later rather than sooner ? but there will continue to be an office here, doing the same trade development work for New Zealand.

We have a pretty good relationship. There are not many irritants in Philippine / New Zealand relations. When they do arise, it is important to keep them in perspective. We all want minimal disruption to trade, and to work in a stable business environment.

Accordingly, I have been emphasizing the importance of a clear regulatory structure to the Secretaries I have been calling on here. I have also been taking the opportunity to make representations on measures such as MO7, which New Zealand sees as trade-inhibiting.

New Zealand's export focus, and its strategies for both trade promotion and trade policy, need to improve market access alongside building domestic capacity.

New Zealand is working smart and finding innovative ways to stay ahead of competitors especially for the dollars at the high end of the market.

As a small nation, we have a limited promotional budget, especially for the wide spread of export markets, so we need to take advantage of every opportunity to promote New Zealand and thus New Zealand products. Things we have used recently include activities around the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films and the Americas Cup yachting competition. The Prime Minister's starring role in a Discovery channel documentary was useful as well, as wash New Zealand being named the world's top destination by Lonely Planet travellers' guides.

Tourism is a big market for us. Currently, it is booming . We hope that visitors will take back fond memories of their visit to New Zealand ? and perhaps also a taste for our quality food products and leisure wear.

New Zealand is a small country, but I know we offer a high-quality product. Whether you're looking for safe, tasty food, innovative ideas and technology, or high value services, New Zealand can provide. Together, we can do business that helps us both.

Thank you all very much for giving me the opportunity to be with you this evening. I would be happy to respond to any questions or comments.

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