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New Zealand statement at the ASEAN-NZ Dialogue

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

29 July 2005

Speech Notes

New Zealand statement at the ASEAN-NZ Dialogue

Delivered last night NZT
ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference
Vientiane, Laos

Last year in Jakarta, I said I was aware of a new sense of purpose within ASEAN. This year the sense of purpose is much stronger. That is demonstrated by ASEAN’s drive to create a Community by 2020 and its decision to hold an East Asia Summit later this year.

New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to look at the wider region of which we are all a part, to test our perspectives of where new directions are taking us, and to reaffirm the importance of good neighbourliness and co-operative endeavour.

The presence of ministers and representatives from all the members of ASEAN for the New Zealand Dialogue demonstrates the seriousness with which ASEAN wishes to engage with New Zealand. That is reciprocated by New Zealand, and it explains why New Zealand has indicated its wish to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.

As ASEAN has extended and deepened its interaction with its major partners to the north, we are pleased that it has also recognised a common interest in nurturing its linkages with its southern partners.

This year, in New Zealand we have welcomed to our country the heads of government from Indonesia, Malaysia and Viet Nam as well as the Deputy Prime Minister from Laos.

In Vientiane late last year, the ASEAN/NZ/Australia Summit reminded all those present of the enduring relationship between ASEAN and both New Zealand and Australia. The summit injected new impetus and substance into our relations with ASEAN, most notably in the agreement to tie the economies of AFTA and the CER more closely through the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement. From this we hope other developments will flow to further tie ASEAN and New Zealand together. We are open to suggestions from ASEAN as to how we can ensure that the outcomes will be worthwhile for all of us.

We were brought together in less fortunate circumstances by the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck the region at the end of the year. These events, the scale of which numb us, brought about an unprecedented and substantial relief effort, in which New Zealand willingly assisted. That was not only because some of our own people were caught up in the catastrophe, but because of our concern and sympathy for our neighbours in this region. New Zealand police officers continue to assist with Disaster Victim Identification in Khao Lak, Thailand and we are engaged in ongoing reconstruction assistance in Aceh.

I am delighted to sit across the table from a number of my colleagues from ASEAN. This is the second year with the Philippines as our Dialogue Co-ordinator and I am honoured to address Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo in this context. I am pleased that this particular strand in our relations with the Philippines has afforded us even closer contact with a friend of such long-standing.

As I noted last year, we in New Zealand very much appreciated the role Singapore played as New Zealand’s previous Dialogue Country Co-ordinator, during which time the scope of the dialogue was expanded beyond the traditional, and vitally important, area of ODA into issues of common interest and concern in economic, political and security fields. Given ASEAN’s expanded agenda, its growing weight in Asia and potentially pivotal role in the development of a regional architecture in Asia, this dialogue is important to us.

I look forward to the contributions from the Ministers and representatives from the ASEAN countries and the Secretary-General.

New Zealand has been a dialogue partner of ASEAN since 1975. The links New Zealand has shared with ASEAN have matured and developed as both ASEAN and New Zealand have grown. These links have been an integral part of New Zealand’s deepening ties with the Asian region.

New Zealand is serious about re-energising its relations with Asia and with ASEAN. Much has been done in the last few years, and we would wish the process to be taken further. We are looking for a deepened political and security dialogue. We believe the proposed Free Trade Agreement will bring greater economic and trade relations. Above all, we want co-operative links that bring benefits that both sides value and that can be taken further.

ASEAN and its region are important to New Zealand politically, strategically and economically. Developments in Southeast Asia can affect us closely. In other meetings will go more deeply into the many common security concerns we have and ways to address these through enhanced regional co-operation. These are matters to which New Zealand attaches great importance and where we see the strides that ASEAN has made. New Zealand believes it has a role to play as a partner willing to share its experience and to contribute to the community that ASEAN has begun to develop.

New Zealand applauds ASEAN for its vision and its willingness to set guidelines for up to 15 years ahead. We believe that the creation of a cohesive and outward looking ASEAN grouping will further enhance the stability and the economic development of the ASEAN region.

Over the past few years, we have seen many positive developments in ASEAN countries, such as economic resilience and a return to high rates of growth, democratic elections, and greater regional co-operation even in areas of national sensitivity.

We would like to see Myanmar joining in with these developments and restoring democracy and sound economic management to improve the welfare of its people. We hope that ASEAN countries collectively will be able to bring influence to bear in ways that accord with ASEAN’s bold vision.

The ASEAN region continues to be important to New Zealand in economic and trade terms. ASEAN’s trade with New Zealand is growing strongly, and is consistently in ASEAN’s favour. Our links, including the many people-to-people activities, are mutually beneficial and we see good scope for them to expand in complementary ways. Together we are aware of the need to both safeguard and advance our trading interests in the face of the ever-expanding web of bilateral and regional FTAs and CEPs, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region.

In New Zealand’s wider trade strategy, we see CEPs as complementing the multilateral and regional tracks. The WTO remains New Zealand’s top trade priority, but we recognise that CEPs with key trading partners, or groups, can open new opportunities for New Zealand in a shorter timeframe than through the WTO. Such agreements can also contribute to the achievement of the APEC Bogor goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia/Pacific region by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing economies.

It is vital that the Doha Round ends in success. We urge our ASEAN colleagues to keep pushing towards consensus on the details of this package. A successful outcome to the Doha Round will be in all our interests.

New Zealand has contributed to efforts to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development in the ASEAN region for over 50 years. Today, New Zealand’s Agency for International Development (NZAID) is committed to fighting poverty through a range of bilateral, regional and multilateral programmes.

This year New Zealand will increase our contribution to just over $NZ38 million to ASEAN countries under our various ODA programmes. There will be steady increases in NZ ODA to ASEAN countries to reach $50 million by 2008. Our development commitment to Southeast Asia is second only to our ODA engagement in the Pacific. It represents, for us, a substantial investment in the economic and social development of the ASEAN region.

As a small donor country, we pride ourselves on our flexible and responsive approach to the needs of our ASEAN partners. New Zealand fully appreciates the importance ASEAN attaches to the economic advancement and integration of the Association’s less developed members. We are interested in exploring possible ways in which New Zealand can work co-operatively with some of the developed ASEAN countries in new ODA partnerships. This is another sign of the strides ASEAN has made. New Zealand looks forward to weaving these new strands into our overall relations in the region.

New Zealand greatly values its partnership with ASEAN. Our collaboration is even more important today given the many challenges our countries are facing and the recognised need for us to work together. We look forward to deepening and extending our engagement with ASEAN this, our 30th anniversary year and into the future.

ENDS

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