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Goff welcomes plan for EU office in NZ

Goff welcomes plan for EU office in NZ

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff today warmly welcomed the European Commission's announcement that it will open a delegation office in Wellington.

“New Zealand places great value on our relations with Europe. The decision to open an office here demonstrates a clear commitment to dialogue and partnership by the European Union," Mr Goff said.

“Having an EU representative based in New Zealand will further strengthen our relationship in a number of areas such as trade, science and technology, education, tourism and people-to-people links.

"Our economic ties are substantial. New Zealand exports to the EU totalled NZ$4.7 billion in 2002, making it collectively our second-largest market after Australia. It is also our second-largest source of foreign direct investment.

"Tourism is another significant link. Over 400,000 visitors, or 20 percent of our tourists, come from Europe every year, while 105,000 New Zealanders travelled to Europe last year.

“The political relationship is very important. We hold similar interests and perspectives on many regional and multilateral issues through shared values, and keep apprised of each other's views through six-monthly consultations.

"The new office will also help build on recent high-level exchanges, including visits here by Commissioners Poul Nielson (Development and Humanitarian Aid), Pascal Lamy (Trade) and Chris Patten (External Relations), followed by the Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels in May, and visits to Europe by myself and the Ministers of Education and of Research, Science and Technology.

"New Zealand stands to gain even more from its strong relationship with the EU when its membership expands to 25 states next May. Around the same time we will further strengthen our presence in Europe by opening an embassy in Warsaw next year," Mr Goff said.

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