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"Focus Latin America" - Where Is It?

The long awaited announcement of the minority Government's Latin American strategy is well overdue, National's Trade spokesperson John Luxton said today.

"The Government, despite much noise about the importance of Latin America and a brief visit to the inauguration of the new Chilean President Lagos, has been almost silent in its communications with South America and Latin America.

"National's "Focus Latin America" programme launched in 1996, focussed on the mutual objectives of groups such as the Cairns Group, APEC and WTO. There was a joint and mutual advantage in working together.

"Over the last four years, very warm, friendly and productive contacts have been made both in the private and public sectors of the New Zealand economy with South American and Latin American economies.

"A new embassy in Buenos Aires, the consulate in Sao Paulo, the recognition of the need for a new embassy in Brazil and reciprocal visits by the New Zealand Prime Minister and the Presidents of Chile, Argentina and Peru have all re-enforced the contacts established under the previous National Government's "Focus Latin America" programme. These together with Trade Missions and Ministerial visits have made and seen contacts maintained between New Zealand and Latin America.

"Despite the Prime Minister's talk of a new emphasis on South America back in March, it has been all quiet from the Prime Ministerial and Ministerial Offices.

"The Government's impending announcement is long overdue given the vacuum there has been in political contacts with South America over the past five months.

"There are very big trade and investment opportunities for New Zealand businesses in Latin America and good government to government relationships are necessary to cement those opportunities."


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