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NZ PM and Thai PM Joint Statement

NZ PM and Thai PM Joint Statement

The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, H.E Thaksin Shinawatra, and the New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, met today for bilateral discussions. They were subsequently joined by nine Ministers of the Thai Cabinet and ten New Zealand Cabinet Ministers. (A list of accompanying Ministers is attached).

The Prime Ministers signalled a major step forward for the bilateral relationship in their commitment to conclude a Closer Economic Partnership agreement. New Zealand/Thai relations have historically been close, forged through education and tourism links, and through longstanding cooperation on international and regional trade issues. The negotiations under way towards a CEP provide the opportunity to lift the relationship to a new level and to build a vibrant, open economic partnership between two complementary economies.

The CEP was seen by both Prime Ministers as a platform for Thais and New Zealanders to work together, pooling expertise, ideas, technology and resources to make both countries more competitive in the global marketplace. The agreement would produce mutual benefits for consumers and businesses in both countries, with each country playing to its economic strengths while providing opportunities for adjustment where required. New Zealand’s willingness to cooperate with the Thai dairy sector through sharing expertise and working together to expand demand for both local and imported dairy products was seen by the Prime Ministers as a positive response to concerns in Thailand’s dairy industry.

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Both Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the progress already made in the CEP negotiations and remained desirous of meeting the November target for conclusion. Both Prime Ministers envisage the CEP to be a building block for an AFTA/CER Free Trade Agreement in the future.

The Prime Ministers discussed a number of initiatives for future cooperation in education, tourism, scientific research, and cultural exchanges. They underlined the importance of close cooperation in regional efforts to counter terrorism, human trafficking, illegal migration and narcotic drugs trafficking. They also agreed to explore ways to celebrate in 2006 the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and New Zealand.

Prime Minister Clark confirmed New Zealand’s support for Thailand’s application to become a Dialogue Partner of the Pacific Islands Forum. Recognising that Thailand is now an ODA donor, New Zealand and Thailand will also cooperate as regional partners in assisting Thailand’s neighbouring countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

New Zealand and Thailand have agreed to conclude a Working Holiday Scheme, a step which would complement the CEP through opening the eyes of young people to each country’s societies, cultures and eventual business opportunities or partnerships.

The Prime Ministers warmly welcomed recent developments in New Zealand’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), notably the proposed summit involving ASEAN leaders and the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand in November and the proposal to launch a Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN and CER. The summit was seen as a starting point for deeper political engagement and greater practical cooperation between ASEAN and New Zealand.

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