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NZ - Uruguay relations expanding in new directions

12 November 2007

NZ - Uruguay relations expanding in new directions

Regular New Zealand–Uruguay bilateral foreign policy talks and doubling the number of working holiday visas granted each year between the two countries have been announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Uruguay President Dr Tabare Vazquez today.

The announcements were made during the President’s visit to New Zealand today, which began officially today. The President met with Helen Clark and then with the Cabinet this morning.

“The Working Holiday Scheme will be doubled to two hundred places each year. It was signed in 2001 when I visited Uruguay, and took effect from 2003 with one hundred places available each way. The places for young Uruguayans coming to New Zealand are now fully subscribed and the New Zealand Government has agreed that the numbers should be increased,” Helen Clark said.

Helen Clark said that New Zealand’s relationship with Uruguay has been growing, particularly since it was identified as one of six priority relationships for New Zealand in Latin America under our Latin America Strategy.

“There has long been contact between New Zealand agricultural scientists and educators with Uruguay. Now that agricultural-related relationship is expanding into commercial fields, especially through the major PGG Wrightsons investment in Uruguay’s dairy sector.

“Through that project, New Zealand agri-technology is now being applied to Uruguay’s dairy pastures.

“This will boost dairy production in Uruguay for both the domestic and the export markets and bring a return to New Zealand investors. It also opens the way for sales of more New Zealand agricultural technology to Uruguay.

“As New Zealand and Uruguay have similar agricultural bases to their economy, it makes sense for us to collaborate in these areas,” Helen Clark said.

“Under President Vazquez, Uruguay has embarked on an overhaul of its public service, management of state enterprises, and taxation system. As New Zealand and Uruguay are of similar size, Uruguay is interested in hearing more of New Zealand’s experience in these areas. There will be official delegations from Uruguay to New Zealand in the coming months to learn more about our experiences.”

“New Zealand’s historic connection with Uruguay through the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939 was also acknowledged today.

“Sixty-eight years ago, New Zealand cruiser Achilles was one of three ships engaged in naval battle with the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in the River Plate,” Helen Clark said.

“Four of the Achilles’ crew were killed in the battle, which led to the Graf Spee’s scuttling in the River Plate estuary off Montevideo.

“I want to pay tribute to those servicemen and acknowledge their bravery in an encounter with a much heavier armed vessel,” Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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