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PM: Stronger connections with Asia

Stronger connections with Asia

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Prime Minister Hon Helen Clark and Foreign Minister Winston Peters today launched a new White Paper on New Zealand's relations with Asia, Our Future with Asia, which focuses on building stronger connections with the region.

"New Zealand already has substantial and wide ranging interests in Asia, but further opportunities for us will open up if we are well positioned, " Helen Clark said.

"Regional co-operation is growing within Asia. It is critical that New Zealand is included in this trend towards regional integration if we are to consolidate and advance our interests.

"In this context, we were pleased to be invited by ASEAN to participate in the East Asia Summit from its inception in 2005."

"Interfaith dialogue and environmental co-operation are two new areas where New Zealand is engaging with Asia," Helen Clark said.

Winston Peters said seeing New Zealand companies succeed in Asia is a major objective, but it is also important that the relationship with the region be based on more than a commercial footing.

"We need to look at what New Zealand can contribute to Asia. If we want to embrace the benefits of engagement, we must also be prepared to play our part," Winston Peters said.

"New Zealand can achieve this through a range of initiatives, including trade, economic and science and technology co-operation, education and cultural exchanges, development assistance and defence and security ties," he said.

Our Future with Asia acknowledges the contribution made by the non-government sector in building their own links with Asia, including through business, education and people to people ties.

The Government is looking at ways that it can support this effort, such as through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's expanded presence in the region and a strengthened role for the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Helen Clark said that in order to engage more closely with the region and remain competitive in the global economy, New Zealand must also become more "Asia literate". This involves lifting New Zealanders' familiarity and knowledge of the Asian region and its peoples.

"Our Asian communities, with their Asia-relevant skills and connections, have a role to play in this.

"It goes without saying that New Zealand's commitment to Asia needs to be a long term, sustained effort and not "stop go". The Government looks forward to working with the private sector in this endeavour," Helen Clark said.

ENDS


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