Dalziel: Dinner for COSCO Beijing President, Chair
13 October, 2008
Dinner for COSCO Beijing President and Chair
Good evening everyone. It is a pleasure to be here and to be part of this dinner in honour of Captain WEI Jai Fu [WAY Jar Foo], Chairman and President of the Cosco Group of Beijing, on the occasion of his first visit to New Zealand. May I offer you a very warm welcome and offer apologies on behalf of the Minister of Trade, Hon Phil Goff, who would have liked to have been here this evening.
As the world's second largest shipping company with a longstanding presence in New Zealand, with offices here in Auckland and in my home town of Christchurch, COSCO very much reflects the important commercial linkages between China and New Zealand.
In fact I would go so far as to say that Cosco's 20 year history of operations in New Zealand is of vital importance to a country whose lifeblood is international trade. Cosco's handling of a large percentage of New Zealand's cargo flow to North Asia is of significant importance to New Zealand's linkages with its trading partners in the region. From simple beginnings in 1988, Cosco's servicing of New Zealand ports has paralleled the expansion of this country's trade and economic relationship with China - now our third largest trading partner. The New Zealand government very much welcomes Cosco's ongoing commitment to servicing New Zealand ports.
I was pleased to learn that the port of Lyttelton in my hometown of Christchurch was the first destination for Cosco's container service in May 1988. Cosco's links with Lyttelton have of course expanded dramatically since then; and I was pleased you were able to spend some time with representatives of the Lyttelton port company and Canterbury businesses on Sunday in Christchurch.
I am very mindful of the fact that Cosco
New Zealand has also been an excellent corporate citizen
including support for a number of charities; and may I
particularly acknowledge Cosco's support for the New Zealand
Lantern Festival, organised by the Asia-New Zealand
Foundation. This provides a powerful linkage with Chinese
culture and the Chinese community in New Zealand. The
festival is now the largest of its kind, attracting crowds
of 250,000 in Auckland and 60-80,000 in
Captain, your visit to New Zealand has come at an excellent time. There is much to share and celebrate. Our Free Trade Agreement has just come into force; the Shanghai Expo - arguably the biggest in world history - is only 20 months away; and more exciting new ventures continue to unfold for both our countries.
The New Zealand-China Free Agreement represents a new milestone in our bilateral relationship. But of course the benefits of the FTA have moved from being about our two governments negotiating the agreement, to being about our respective businesses developing trade opportunities. As I'm sure you'll agree, governments don't trade; businesses do. As a Chinese company with a long term commitment to operating in New Zealand, Cosco has a vital role to play in maximising the benefits of the FTA to both countries.
The Shanghai Expo in 2010 promises to be another highpoint for New Zealand's linkages with China. New Zealand registered early for the Expo and we have secured a prime location for the pavilion, which will have the theme of: "Cities of Nature: Living between Land and Sky". We have some exciting plans for the New Zealand pavilion, because we want to make the most of the 70 million people expected to visit the Expo over 6 months - in that regard it is not surprising that we see this as an unparalleled opportunity for New Zealand businesses and organisations to host clients and build relationships within a uniquely New Zealand environment. We would be delighted to have Cosco as a partner and supporter at the Expo.
Clearly we have built significant bridges between our countries and the potential to grow and develop further is immense.
So may I once again welcome Captain WEI to New Zealand. I hope that this visit has been worthwhile to you and that it will be the first of many visits in the future.
Due to the importance of this visit, it is has been a great honour for me personally to meet you and officially welcome you here on behalf of the NZ government. I again apologise on behalf of the Minister of Trade, but it has been a real pleasure to stand in his place tonight.
I now have the privilege of inviting you, Captain WEI, to take the floor.