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Government keeps Asian relations to fore

Hon Phil Goff - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Government keeps Asian relations to fore

New funding of $2.6 million for Asia-related projects underlines the government’s commitment to further advancing New Zealand’s relations with Asia, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

"The funding will be directed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Asia New Zealand Foundation. It complements the $29.2 million Growth and Innovation Strategy in this year's budget for securing trade agreements and ensuring they deliver real gains to New Zealand business.

"Since the Seriously Asia conference was held in November 2003 there has been a distinct quickening in the tempo of our relations with Asia. A Closer Economic Partnership agreement has just been concluded with Thailand, and free trade negotiations are at various stages with ASEAN, China, and Malaysia.

"The Prime Minister’s visit to India in October last year and her attendance at the ASEAN-New Zealand-Australia summit in Vientiane in November also signalled a reinvigoration of our relations with the region.

"Already this year we have welcomed political leaders of Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam to our country, with more to come. In turn I have held bilateral talks with ministerial counterparts in China, India, and Sri Lanka.

"There are further opportunities for engagement with Asia this year with Korea hosting APEC, and Japan hosting Expo in Aichi, where the New Zealand Pavilion has been making a considerable impact.

"The appointment of the Prime Minister’s fellows; the holding of workshops, conferences and symposia offshore; media exchanges, and supporting academic visits are all tools for enhancing New Zealanders’ understanding of Asia and, conversely, raising our profile in Asia.

"These activities will support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s core business of building political relationships and negotiating improved trade access with key partners across Asia," said Mr Goff.

ENDS

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