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Anderton Speech Malaysian Society Chinese New Year

Jim Anderton Speech to Canterbury Malaysian Society Chinese New Year dinner, 6.30PM Sunday, 12 February 2006, 266 High Street, Christchurch.

Jim Anderton is celebrating the occasion of the Chinese New Year with a speech to the Canterbury Malaysian Society on the theme of expanding business and trade between Malaysia and New Zealand.

Jim Anderton stressed that the relationship between New Zealand and Malaysia is much deeper than the commercial ties alone. Relations between Malaysia and New Zealand have been forged over decades of co-operation.

“In the early fifties, under the Colombo Plan, New Zealand provided assistance to help educate Malaysian students. In the 1950s and sixties ties deepened when large numbers of New Zealand soldiers served in what was then Malaya. Our first New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia was Sir Charles Bennett, a distinguished Maori leader and soldier. In fact I have something in common with Sir Charles - we both served for a time as President of Labour Party,” Jim Anderton said at the New Year dinner.

“Our countries are good friends as well as Malaysia being one of New Zealand's most important trading partners. Tourists and students from Malaysia contribute more than seventy million dollars a year to our economy.

“In March last year New Zealand and Malaysia agreed to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement. It's likely that negotiations will be finished and an agreement in place by the middle of this year. In practice most of our exports to Malaysia already enter at low duty rates. But there are some sectors where our exporters face tariffs as high as twenty to forty percent - including forestry, some dairy products, aluminium and steel products, motor vehicle parts, plastics and white ware. The more these goods are processed, the higher the barrier we face. Since we are trying to push New Zealand manufacturers up the value chain, and into the export of higher value goods, lower Malaysian tariffs would benefit us substantially,” Jim Anderton said.

“The most important message for us to take from the fact these talks are underway is that the business relationship between New Zealand and Malaysia is likely to expand and deepen. If we are to take full advantage of the opportunity, we can benefit from calling on the skills of new New Zealanders who know the market well and who have established linkages there.

“So I welcome this community's interest in expanding business and trade between Malaysia and New Zealand. I urge you to keep in touch with NZTE on any areas where the government can help to overcome obstacles to improving our trade linkages.

“I welcome also your interest in the primary sector. You're right to see our primary industries as the backbone of our export economy. It's the sector where the largest overall growth in the New Zealand economy will come from for the foreseeable future. There is a common belief that primary industries are slowly being displaced by the growth of other sectors. While other sectors are generally growing - and that's pleasing - in recent years agriculture has been growing faster than other parts of the New Zealand economy.

“As the Minister with responsibility for all our primary industries, I can tell you one of the most important challenges is to develop stronger networks with world markets. So I say to groups such as this one, that the potential linkages you offer to our vital export destinations can make a huge difference.

“I urge you to work on developing your business ideas in ways that will take advantage of your skills and networks, and add to New Zealand's growing export base.

“This year of the dog is the beginning of that positive future, and I wish you prosperity and good fortune as you start out, Jim Anderton concluded.

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