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Sutton: NZ-Pacific Business Council launch

Hon Jim Sutton
Member of Parliament for Aoraki

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Trade Negotiations, Minister for Biosecurity, and Associate Minister for Rural Affairs

Speech Notes
1 August 2005
NZ-Pacific Business Council launch, Auckland

Talofa, Kia Orana, Malo e lei lei, bula vinaka, my colleague Winnie Laban, chairman Gilbert Ullrich, Anne Candy, David Flett Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today to officially launch the New Zealand Pacific Business Council.

Our relationship with our Pacific neighbours is one that this government values a great deal.

New Zealand is a multi-cultural society and we can be proud of its growing identity as a Pacific nation. The Pacific people who have settled in New Zealand have added a vibrancy to our country and helped us build strong ties with our Pacific neighbours diplomatically, culturally and economically.

Our histories are well intertwined and we've been important trading and investment partners for many years.

I believe there are many more opportunities for us to explore and the establishment of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council is an important step towards realising those opportunities.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Helen Clark hosted the 34th Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland.

The Forum opened with a multi-media cultural show titled: "Tapa -New Zealand Made". The show told the story of Pacific peoples journey in Aotearoa New Zealand. It reaffirmed the country's identity as a Pacific nation and portrayed a country that is innovative and forward-looking.

The innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that that is characteristic of New Zealanders of all cultures can be traced in part to our resourceful forebears who pioneered a new Pacific nation together.New Zealand's edge lies in an independent spirit - a spirit that we share with our Pacific neighbours.

This shared spirit and history are solid foundations on which to build closer economic ties between New Zealand and our Pacific neighbours.

And all of us here today know how solid those foundations really are.

I have taken three trade missons to the Pacific in recent years, and my colleague Phil Goff takes regular delegations each year as well.

These receive warm welcomes, and it is clear that the relationship between the Pacific and New Zealand is a strong one, but with much more potential.

The trade mission that went to New Caledonia and French Polynesia in March this year demonstrated that there is a willingness among New Zealand businesses to work together to develop trading and investment partnerships with their Pacific counterparts.

The business delegation was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and included your chairman, Gilbert Ullrich and Chris Cocker from the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commission.

Delegation members achieved immediate export orders of $2.2 million on the mission and identified potential new business of $16 million in the next two years.

While the dollar outcomes are important, just are important are the less tangible outcomes. Cementing cultural and social relationships between New Zealand and the region are important foundations for future business relationships.

New Zealand companies on the mission greatly increased their knowledge of New Caledonia and French Polynesia and exporter commitment to both countries was affirmed.

All of these outcomes help lay the foundations for more substantive work in future.

This was important as both countries increasingly become an integral part of the South Pacific and our futures become more intertwined.

I'm sure that the delegation from Manukau City going to Samoa and the Cook Islands, in September, will achieve similar success.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The New Zealand Pacific Business Council presents the business community with an invaluable forum for communicating both the issues and challenges and, more importantly, the rewards of doing business in the Pacific.

I wish you all well with your ventures and I am delighted to officially launch the New Zealand Pacific Business Council.

ENDS

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