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Goff to Laos for ASEAN meetings

25 July 2005

Goff to Laos for ASEAN meetings

Foreign Minister Phil Goff leaves for Laos tomorrow to attend the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Post Ministerial Conference and ASEAN Regional Forum.

The Forum involves foreign ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries plus the United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, India, Pakistan, the European Union, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“This year marks three decades since New Zealand became one of the first ASEAN dialogue partners," Mr Goff said.

"The annual post-ministerial conference and regional forum are important opportunities for us to engage with ASEAN on common economic, political and security issues.

"ASEAN is a key part of New Zealand's broader relationship with Asia. Its members play a central role in developments that are shaping the future economic progress and stability of the Asian region, and it is vitally important that we forge stronger ties with them.

“This week's meetings will provide an opportunity to review the progress made in strengthening ties since the Prime Minister attended the ASEAN/Australia/New Zealand summit in Vientiane in November 2004.

“Most notably we are now in a position to accede formally to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, while there has also been significant progress in negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand.

“New Zealand exports to ASEAN nations totalled $2.3 billion in 2004 – about eight per cent of our total exports. While our exporters do not face many major barriers to trade with the region, an FTA would potentially open new opportunities for further growth in our investment, education, and services sectors.

"ASEAN's immense potential as a single market is reflected in trade between the 10 members reaching $US720 billion in 2003,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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