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PM Address at New Zealand/Turkey Business Seminar

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister Address at New Zealand/Turkey Business Seminar

Parliament House Wellington

6.20 pm

Monday 5 December 2005

It is a pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his distinguished delegation of Ministers, parliamentarians, officials, business leaders, and media representatives to this seminar on New Zealand/Turkey business opportunities.

When New Zealanders think of Turkey, most think of Gallipoli and the events of ninety years ago. But both our governments are keen to develop relationships which, while reflecting on our shared heritage, also reflect our 21st century realities.

Turkey has a large and fast growing economy which we in New Zealand need to know more about.

And we hope that on this visit, the delegation from Turkey will see opportunities for increased trade with New Zealand’s affluent and sophisticated small economy. We have considerable expertise in a range of goods and services which we believe are of interest to Turkey.

I hope that in the course of this visit to New Zealand business representatives from each country will gain a deeper understanding of what each country has to offer the other by way of trade, joint venture and investment opportunities. Put bluntly, our two-way trade has never reached its full potential. But visits of business delegations can open the eyes of our private sectors to what is possible – and we in government can work to facilitate trade in both goods and services.

New Zealand’s total exports of goods to Turkey in the year to 30 June amounted to a little over $32 million. Given the scale of Turkey’s economy, we could be doing much better. Turkey’s traditional import tariffs and other barriers have worked to limit our traditional export trade in agricultural goods. But we believe the changes that the Turkish economy is undergoing, in preparation for joining the European Union, will change the prospects for New Zealand’s meat and dairy products.

Currently our imports from Turkey are close to $100 million a year. They cover a broad range of items from transport equipment to agricultural products.

When I was in Turkey in April, Prime Minister Erdogan told me that New Zealand’s expertise in agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, geothermal and seismic engineering were areas of potential growth in economic relations.

Both our countries face a common challenge arising from our location on and around active tectonic plates. We have both experienced major earthquakes and the huge social and economic costs earthquakes can cause.

This afternoon the Prime Minister has been briefed on New Zealand’s earthquake engineering capabilities. You have seen the New Zealand developed base isolators which protect our Parliament, national museum and other buildings from earthquakes.

I know that our New Zealand Earthquake Engineering and Natural Hazards Industry groups are active in providing expertise to Turkey. In April I visited Bakirkoy in Istanbul where New Zealand company, Beca, and their Turkish partner, Prota Engineering, were working together on a World Bank project assessing apartment buildings and their capacity to withstand earthquakes.

Tomorrow the Turkish delegation goes to Christchurch where it will see examples of our agricultural expertise and the high technology of our modern wool industry. Wool is a big part of our trade with Turkey; accounting for almost half of the value of our exports there. This is a win:win for New Zealand’s wool industry and for Turkey’s important textile industry.

In the future, as now, the economic relationship between Turkey and New Zealand will extend well beyond trade in goods to growing a bigger trade in services.

Tourism is a growing part of the relationship, and I am pleased that there is a strong contingent from Turkey’s tourism industry in this week’s delegation. New Zealanders are energetic travellers, and Turkey has a lot to offer its visitors. While it may be unlikely that our national airlines will fly direct between New Zealand and Turkey, they may well establish code-share services with those which do. New Zealand government officials have suggested that Turkey consider acceding to the Multilateral Agreement on the Liberalisation of International Air Transport. We have provided information on this to Turkey’s officials and look forward to progressing this issue in the coming year.

Of course New Zealand would also welcome more visitors from Turkey. When I was in Turkey, I suggested that we develop together a Working Holiday Scheme to encourage more young Turks to visit New Zealand – and vice versa. Our officials are working on that now.

Both our countries face the challenge of managing significant numbers of visitors while safeguarding our historic heritage and natural environment for future generations. Turkey has an especially rich historic heritage to protect. New Zealand is known for its ecotourism. We look forward to developing closer links in this area so that we can share our respective expertise.

New Zealand has developed a large international education sector, with many students coming here for degree and diploma study and for English language training.

At this time we have few students from Turkey, but we are aware that many young Turks travel abroad to study. We do have an active education network promoting to Turkey the benefits of tertiary education in New Zealand. I understand that the delegation will have an opportunity to meet some students from Turkey when you visit Christchurch tomorrow.

New Zealand has recently offered two New Zealand Doctoral Research Scholarships to Turkish students. One is to study agriculture at Lincoln University, and the other will study petroleum and natural gas reservoir engineering at Auckland University.

In the years to come, I would like to see stronger linkages developed between New Zealand and the Turkish Ministry of Education and the Turkish Council for Higher Education. We look forward to a visit next year by the Turkish Minister of Education as part of that process.

New Zealand is part of the dynamic Asia Pacific economic region. We work with partners in this region to promote political dialogue, trade and economic growth. We are opening up trade through bilateral and sub-regional FTAs, and through the agreements made at APEC.

We are well positioned to benefit from the rapid economic growth of this important region. Our knowledge of the Asia Pacific region may be of benefit to Turkish businesses seeking to access markets here.

In conclusion, we see great potential for both New Zealand and Turkey to further develop the economic relationship between us. The challenge is for all of us to make that happen. My government is committed to this goal and I wish you well as you explore direct opportunities at the business level.

Thank you.

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