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New Zealand to build links with ASEAN countries

Media Statement
1 December 2004 (NZ time)

New Zealand to build links with ASEAN countries

The government has agreed to a series of measures to help build New Zealand’s connections with the countries of South East Asia, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today.

"Today’s commemorative summit between the leaders of New Zealand, Australia, and the Association of South East Asian Nations marks nearly thirty years of dialogue partnership for New Zealand," Helen Clark said.

"The government has given considerable thought to how to step up New Zealand’s engagement with South East Asia, beyond the launch of the FTA negotiations announced today.

"Linkages between New Zealand and South East Asia go well beyond trade or development assistance. It’s important to acknowledge the breadth and richness of our relationship. This package of initiatives is intended to do this.

"Educational and academic links are central to New Zealand’s wish to encourage people to people links with ASEAN countries, in ways which benefit all involved and help create better understanding. Included in the new measures are provisions allocating ASEAN students twenty to thirty per cent of New Zealand’s new international undergraduate scholarships which will be offered from 2006, and establishing a visiting ASEAN academic programme."

Other initiatives include the establishment of two annual Prime Minister’s Fellowships for ASEAN visitors, modelled on programmes already in place for Japan, Korea, and Latin America; a media programme which would give more New Zealand journalists the opportunity to visit South East Asian countries and bring influential journalists from that part of the world to New Zealand; and the development, using DVD technology, of a programme to showcase the quality of contemporary New Zealand music and the technical skills of New Zealand producers.

"These initiatives advance the goal of last year’s Seriously Asia Forum of revitalising links with the countries of Asia. After almost thirty years of a dialogue relationship, it is time to engage in new ways to reinforce New Zealand’s long term interests in strong relationships in the region," Helen Clark said.

Details of the New Zealand ASEAN package

The main elements of the package are outlined below.

Educational/academic links:
- the allocation to ASEAN of 20-30% of the new international undergraduate scholarships being awarded in 2006 and beyond;
- priority will be given, within the new Study Abroad awards for New Zealanders, to exchanges with institutions in ASEAN countries;
- ASEAN candidates will be encouraged to apply for New Zealand’s new international post-graduate research scholarships;
- New Zealand will resume active participation in the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO);
- establishment of a Visiting ASEAN Academic programme for two month sabbatical attachments at the University of Auckland’s NZ Asia Institute or Victoria University’s Asian Studies Institute;
- sponsorship of a one-off high profile ASEAN/NZ workshop and Forum at the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore, in May 2005, to examine a commissioned study on “An Agenda for Closer Relations between A/NZ and ASEAN”.

Other:
- Establishment of two annual Prime Minister’s Fellowships for ASEAN visitors (modelled on successful Japan, Korea, and Latin American schemes) to rotate around ASEAN’s member countries. This will enlarge the pool of ASEAN’s future leaders and legislators with first-hand knowledge of NZ;
- Supplement the Asia NZ Foundation’s media programmes with a specific ASEAN focused programme managed by MFAT and posts involving: (a) a young journalists’ fellowship scheme and (b) targeting established and influential media representatives for exposure to topical or significant Asia-related issues, and for ASEAN journalists for exposure to New Zealand;
- Mount a cultural diplomacy initiative aimed at younger ASEAN audiences using DVD-CD technology to demonstrate the range and quality of contemporary NZ music and technical skills of NZ producers.

New development partnerships will be pursued by NZAID, focusing on the priorities to emerge from the Vientiane Summit, which could involve tripartite cooperation with ASEAN and Australia in sanitary-phytosanitary/food safety capacity building to facilitate regional trade.

ENDS

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