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Goff heads to Europe for WTO, Afghanistan meetings

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence
Minister of Trade


19 January 2006

Media statement

Goff heads to Europe for WTO, Afghanistan meetings


Phil Goff leaves for Europe tomorrow on a two-week trip that will see him attend important meetings involving his Defence and Trade portfolios.

En route to Europe, Mr Goff will stop in Los Angeles where he will meet with New Zealand trade officials and with New Zealand companies based in California, including Fisher and Paykel, Zeacom, and Crown.

"Los Angeles is New Zealand's gateway to the United States, and California is an important source of trade, investment and tourists for us. California takes nearly one third of our $US4.3 billion export trade to the US, and a quarter of the 250,000 US tourists who come to New Zealand each year are Californians. The state is also an important source of US investment in New Zealand, especially in the areas of film, forestry, ICT and biotechnology," Mr Goff said.

In Europe, Mr Goff will travel to Geneva to meet World Trade Organisation Secretary General Pascal Lamy before attending a WTO Mini-Ministerial in Davos, Switzerland, on January 27 and 28. Mr Goff is one of 25 Trade Ministers invited to attend the meeting.

"Davos has become a regular meeting at the start of each year to allow a group of trade ministers to focus on the critical challenges of the WTO's Doha Development Round.

"At the Hong Kong Ministerial in December there was acknowledgement of tight deadlines this year if there was to be a successful completion of the Doha round prior to the expiry of the US Trade Promotion Authority.

"The challenge at Davos will be to explore how to advance and hopefully conclude the round within the timeframe available."

Mr Goff will then head to London where he will meet with British counterparts including Defence Secretary John Reid, Trade Secretary Alan Johnson and Foreign Office Minister of State Dr Kim Howells. He will then attend an international conference on Afghanistan on January 31 and February 1, chaired by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"Afghanistan, with the help of the international community, has made tremendous progress in recent years. However it is still one of the world's poorest and least developed countries, and significant challenges remain in areas such as security, governance, reconstruction and development, employment and the fight against narcotics and corruption.

"The continued engagement of the international community is necessary if the Afghan government and people are to overcome these challenges. This conference, which will finalise a new Compact between Afghanistan and the international community based on the goals of the Afghan government for the next five years, is vital to achieving a positive outcome.

"New Zealand has invested over $130 million in military and development assistance in Afghanistan over the last four years, and I will be signalling to the conference that we remain committed to working with the international community to promote its stability and development."

Mr Goff will then fly to Brussels for a series of meetings with European Union officials, including Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, and Foreign and Security Policy High Representative Javier Solana. He will also meet NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The trip will end with a visit to the Merwede shipyard in Rotterdam to see the Royal New Zealand Navy's new Multi Role Vessel, the first of seven Navy ships being built under Project Protector.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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