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Clark: NZ Japan Mutual Recognition Customs Agreemt

9.45am (12.45pm NZ Time)
Wednesday 14 May 2008

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Speech at the signing of the
New Zealand Japan Mutual Recognition Customs Agreement


Wednesday 14 May 2008

It is my pleasure to be here to today to witness the signing of the Customs Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) between New Zealand and Japan.

This arrangement aims to help New Zealand and Japanese exporters move their goods more quickly and effectively between our two countries.

It is an important step in further strengthening co-operation between our countries on trade and economic issues.

The relationship with Japan is very important to New Zealand, and it is a cornerstone of our engagement with Asia. It is a wide ranging relationship, and we believe it is of mutual benefit.

Japan looms large in our international trade relationships as our third largest export destination, and our fourth largest trading partner overall. Two-way trade between us in the year to December 2007 amounted to $7.3 billion, and was fairly closely balanced.

So, today’s signing of this new arrangement between our customs agencies is yet another element in what is a well established relationship between our countries.

As mature Asia-Pacific democracies with many shared values and interests, New Zealand and Japan have a strong affinity with each other. We are natural partners in the region.

Yet we should never take each other for granted. We should look for new forms of co-operation relevant to our 21st century needs. That’s why the signing of this Customs Arrangement today is so welcome.

I congratulate the customs authorities of New Zealand and Japan on their successful negotiation of this arrangement.

I understand that this is the first reciprocal arrangement of its kind in the world. It stands out as an example of how two likeminded and close friends in the region can work together to our mutual advantage.

The arrangement will be particularly important in the event of a crisis, such as 9/11, when borders and trade can be shut down. This arrangement will allow our borders to be opened more quickly to exporters covered by this arrangement.

In signing the Mutual Recognition Arrangement today, we re-affirm our commitment to strengthening the partnership between New Zealand and Japan, and to pursuing the common goals of moving our trade and economic relationship forward.


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