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Beehive Bulletin April 22 2005

Beehive Bulletin April 22 2005

NZ signs trade deal with Thailand

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra attended the signing of a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) agreement this week in Bangkok. It was Helen Clark's first stop on a 13-day trip which takes in Poland, Turkey - where she will attend Gallipoli commemorations - and Germany. The CEP was signed by Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton and Thailand's Minister of Commerce Thanong Bidaya. It comes into force on 1 July. The PM said the CEP agreement provides for comprehensive liberalisation of trade in goods, with a substantial proportion of tariffs to be eliminated on implementation, and the remainder under phasing agreements.

Helen Clark called it a major trade policy outcome that will open up significant opportunities for New Zealand. On implementation, 71 per cent of bilateral trade will be duty free. By 2010 this proportion is estimated to rise to 84 per cent.

Budget boost for Civil Defence

Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins announced this week that Civil Defence will get an extra $21.5 million in the 19 May budget. The minister said some of the money will be used for a public education campaign. He says that the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Asia and the recent floods around New Zealand have made people more aware of the potential for disaster, but there is still a worrying complacency about the need to be prepared.

Of the new money, $15.4 million will be spent on increasing Civil Defence's emergency management capability over the next five years. The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management will increase its capacity to support regions in a crisis and manage a national level event. The public education campaign will cost $6.1 million over four years.

Funding security provided for Film NZ

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton this week announced a key outcome of a government review of the promotional work of Film NZ and Investment NZ. Cabinet approved the funding as part of Budget 2005. Jim Anderton says for 10 years Film NZ's funding has been provided on a year by year basis, so the Cabinet decided greater security was needed to enable Film NZ to continue its work in facilitating domestic and overseas film and television productions, and to continue fostering the screen production sector's rapid expansion.

Jim Anderton said the review of Film NZ and Investment NZ was conducted because a lack of clarity regarding international promotion activities has frustrated the domestic screen production industry. Cabinet has now agreed to a clearer separation of duties between Investment NZ and Film NZ. The distinct roles will be formalised through a memorandum of understanding between Film NZ and Investment NZ.

Budget aims for a fairer, more inclusive nation

In other early budget announcements this week the government announced $5.4 million in funding to help market New Zealand music. Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey said $2m would go to the NZ Music Industry Commission and $3.4m to NZ on Air; Trevor Mallard announced, while leading an education mission to India, that international education will get a $21 million shot in the arm over the next four years.

The money would boost the industry and strengthen bilateral links offshore and raises government funding in international education to over $70m over five years from June 2004-June 2009, Trevor Mallard said; Child Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson announced a $12 million investment in services for children who witness family violence, as a key part of the government's commitment to eliminating violence within families. The minister said the new service would ensure the needs and interests of children affected by family violence were appropriately addressed.

PM in Europe

Helen Clark said in Warsaw this week that the opening of New Zealand's first embassy in Poland would lead to a modernised relationship and strengthen trade and investment links. Helen Clark was due to open the embassy on Friday evening NZ-time. She says the government wanted to encourage more contact on a people-to-people level. The opening of the Warsaw embassy and the appointment of a resident Polish Ambassador in Wellington gave the opportunity to open a new chapter in our relations between the two countries, the PM said. Helen Clark and Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka witnessed the signing of a double tax agreement during the New Zealand PM's visit.

She said that Poland's entry into the European Union is positive for its economy, and over time should open up more trade opportunities for New Zealand. The double tax agreement will help to reduce the costs for New Zealanders doing business in Poland, and vice versa. Double tax agreements prevent businesses being taxed on income they earn in the other coun

Study gives better picture of Wellington transport options

Transport Minister Pete Hodgson this week welcomed the publication of the findings of the Wellington western transport corridor study undertaken by Transit and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). The minister said that for the first time, a comprehensive and costed picture of options for improving transport links along the region's western corridor is available. The government agrees that the region needs an enduring transport solution that improves performance and reliability.

The solution will need to be affordable, have community buy-in and will most likely involve a mix of modes. Government spending on transport in the Wellington region is up by more than 88 per cent this year on 1999/2000. This was given a $225 million boost from the Crown Account in January and will be augmented by $220 million in regional funding, both over ten years.


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