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Forum to advance Pacific economic issues

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister of Finance

30 June 2006 Media Statement

Forum to advance Pacific economic issues

Finance Minister Michael Cullen flies to the Solomon Islands on Sunday for the three day Forum Economic Ministers Meeting.

The meeting of finance ministers and treasurers from Pacific Forum member countries is an annual opportunity to examine progress on advancing the economic growth potential of the region, Dr Cullen said today.

"The Pacific is important to New Zealand. Exports currently total around $1 billion a year and we import about $160 million of Pacific goods.

"We are working hard to eliminate poverty and improve infrastructure. That's why we provide over $150 million in aid to the Pacific each year.

"Ultimately we want Pacific nations to sustain themselves. However, economic reform has not always been successful and growth has not kept pace with the expansion of population so the region faces some serious challenges.

"I am keen to hear about their problems and help find solutions to foster greater sustainable economic development.

As New Zealand has been repeatedly recognised by the World Bank as the easiest place in the world to do business, Dr Cullen will be providing a presentation on this topic.

"I am particularly keen to see what progress is being made on reducing the costs of doing business in the Pacific. New Zealand, which has an enviable record in this regard, has been pushing for concrete steps to reduce red tape to help foster the growth of Pacific businesses."

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello will also attend the meeting. Dr Cullen said he and Mr Costello would have an opportunity to discuss some trans-Tasman economic issues under the Single Economic Market agenda.

Dr Cullen returns to New Zealand on Thursday, 6 July.

ENDS

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