New Zealand: A vital trade partner for Canada

| December 1, 2010 | 0 Comments

 

High Commissioner Needs encourages Canadians to visit New Zealand’s wine regions.

High Commissioner Needs encourages Canadians to visit New Zealand’s wine regions.

Before I left New Zealand to take up my role as high commissioner in Canada, I spoke with my prime minister, the foreign minister and the head of the New Zealand foreign service. The theme from those conversations was how we could further strengthen our trade and economic relationship.
While two-way trade in goods is significant, sitting at $757 million in 2009, it is relatively static compared to the trading relationship New Zealand has with many other bilateral partners. In 2009, New Zealand exported $454 million worth of goods to Canada consisting mainly of meat and dairy products, wine and fruit. Over the same period, Canada exported $303 million, which included minerals, pork and aerospace parts and equipment.
New Zealand products in Canada are by no means restricted to food and beverages. Every day, Canadians enjoy a range of other New Zealand products, including New Zealand merino wool clothing (the Icebreaker brand) and high-end appliances (Fisher and Paykel). Canadians also watch movies where the digital animation and visual effects were created in New Zealand (by Weta Digital) as seen in Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Prime Minister John Key visited Canada in April 2010 and it was an opportunity to continue his regular discussions with Prime Minister Harper — initiated when they first met at the APEC leaders meeting in 2008.
There is no question that both leaders want an enhanced economic relationship to complement the work we already do in other areas of shared interest: Afghanistan, the United Nations and other defence and security concerns, the Commonwealth, parliamentary and legal issues.
Like us, Canada is pursuing an increasingly diversified trade and economic strategy in the Asia-Pacific, and recognizes the value of deepening its political and economic connectivity in the region. Regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently under negotiation (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam) will provide a dynamic platform for enhanced trade and economic activity to economies on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
Enhancing the people-to-people links is also important to us; this is supported by direct flights between Vancouver and Auckland, which contribute to a healthy two-way flow of tourists, students and family members that live on either side of the Pacific Ocean.
We welcome the increasing number of young Canadians pursuing working holidays, temporary work or educational opportunities in New Zealand. Encouraging youth mobility helps to deepen our links and economic connectivity especially as a new generation of New Zealanders and Canadians become the political and economic leaders of tomorrow.
New Zealanders are innovative and creative. The distance from North America and Europe used to be a barrier but our dynamic way of thinking has helped us to bridge that gap and create our own unique identity as a country.
For New Zealand, distance has become less relevant with the quality, efficiency and speed of communication and transport links, allowing an entrepreneur in Auckland to do business in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver in real time and goods to be delivered overnight by air and through excellent shipping links.
With the support of the New Zealand team based in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, my focus is to enhance New Zealand’s connectivity with the federal and provincial governments, businesses and the tourism, science and research communities across Canada to grow the relationship between our two countries.
The team operates with support from sector specialists from New Zealand Tourism, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Investment New Zealand, New Zealand Winegrowers, Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand 2011 and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, based in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. We are collectively known as “NZ Inc.”
Canada’s hosting of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver was a wonderful opportunity to profile this country’s unique culture, diversity and sporting achievements.
New Zealand will host the Rugby World Cup from Sept. 9 to Oct. 23, 2011, and it’s our chance to showcase our country and our biggest asset — our people.  We are encouraging Canadians to join us in celebrating this global sporting event, in particular on Oct. 2 when New Zealand plays Canada.
Beyond the rugby, however, there will be a unique opportunity for Canadian business people, researchers and entrepreneurs to see what New Zealand has to offer as a place to do business, and the potential it presents as a strategic launch pad for trade opportunities into the Asia-Pacific region.
For travel, trade, rugby and more, please go to the New Zealand high commission Ottawa website: www.nzembassy.com/canada or visit www.nzte.govt.nz, and www.newzealand.com, www.nz2011.govt.nz, all of which are useful sites.

Andrew Needs is New Zealand’s high commissioner to Canada. Reach him through his blog, where he outlines his activities, at http://blogs.mfat.govt.nz/andrew-needs or 613-238-5991.

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