Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue will arrive in New Zealand today for talks with ministers, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
“Viet Nam is one of our most important partners in South East Asia,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Trade has grown 150 per cent since 2009 and continues to rise. We are seeing strong growth in student numbers too.
“We are now working towards an ambitious $2.3 billion target for two-way trade by 2020 – that’s compared with a little less than $1.3 billion now.
“Viet Nam is part of the fastest-growing economic region in the world – Asia Pacific – and is this year hosting APEC, the leading economic forum in the region.
“New Zealand and Viet Nam are parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and this visit represents an opportunity to further conversations on its progression.
“Viet Nam is also part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, alongside New Zealand, Australia and 14 other Asian countries.
“Tourist flows in both directions are also on the rise, aided by the launch of Air New Zealand seasonal direct flights last year,” Mr Brownlee says.
During his visit, Deputy Prime Minister Hue will meet with his counterpart Paula Bennett, as well as with Finance Minister Steven Joyce, Trade Minister Todd McClay and Mr Brownlee.
Deputy Prime Minister Hue is responsible for economic and financial issues, including free trade agreements.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says New Zealand’s renewable energy expertise are in demand worldwide as our Development Programme continues to help Pacific Island nations achieve renewable energy targets.
Mr Brownlee has welcomed the signing of a Partnership Arrangement between New Zealand and the African Union Commission to establish the New Zealand – Africa Geothermal Facility.
The facility – managed by the New Zealand Development Programme – will provide about $10 million over the next five years to enhance geothermal development in 11 East African countries.
“The agreement will allow New Zealand to share its expertise in this sector by delivering targeted technical help, advice, development and training,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In Indonesia, New Zealand is partnering with government agencies to provide further technical assistance and capacity building to establish a government geothermal exploration programme and support prioritising and allocating geothermal areas for development.
“Since 2014, New Zealand has funded a regional geothermal advisor to support advancing geothermal development plans for five Eastern Caribbean countries, including with the Commonwealth of Dominica.
“Under our partnership with the Commonwealth of Dominica, a New Zealand project manager has recently been appointed to the Dominica Geothermal Development Company to manage construction of a 7 megawatt geothermal power plant.
“The project, which is 100 per cent government-owned, is due for completion in mid-2019 and will be the Caribbean’s first geothermal power plant.
“These projects are building on our domestic expertise in developing geothermal resource and generation and the leadership we’ve shown finding clean energy solutions in the Pacific.
“Our programme’s energy portfolio includes more than 40 activities with expenditure of $126 million from 2015 to 2018.
“About 82 per cent of our energy spend from 2015 to 2018 will be spent in the Pacific.
“Pacific Island nations have ambitious targets for renewable electricity generation, with most in Polynesia close to 50 per cent. Despite this, access to modern energy services in Melanesia remains among the lowest rates in the world.
“New Zealand has invested more than $120 million in the Pacific energy sector since 2013 and we’re proud to help support the Pacific in this area.
“Climate change is already changing lives and livelihoods across the Pacific.
“I believe it’s essential that New Zealand development funding can add to the resilience of these countries and help boost our Pacific neighbours’ renewable energy generation,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed further engagement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“The establishment of a people-to-people dialogue has been announced during Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit to New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand and the United Kingdom enjoy a broad and enduring partnership. At its foundation are the connections between the people of our two countries.
“The Foreign Secretary and I agreed that enhancing those connections will help support a stronger political and economic relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“The dialogue will provide a forum for discussing a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including how we might improve the opportunities that exist for our citizens to live and work in each other’s countries.
“The relationship New Zealand shares with the United Kingdom is an important one. The UK is our fifth largest trading partner and one of our closest international security partners.
“As the United Kingdom looks to reshape its relationships around the world following its decision to leave the European Union, we see enhanced engagement as an opportunity to further strengthen the friendship the UK and New Zealand have enjoyed for so long,” Mr Brownlee says.
The people-to-people dialogue will be convened at officials’ level at six monthly intervals. It will complement the existing trade policy dialogue, and strategic dialogue on foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says he’s concerned that Japan is driving towards overturning the long-standing global moratorium on commercial whaling.
“New Zealand is extremely disappointed that Japan has passed new legislation that commits to subsidising its whaling fleet,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Attempts to artificially increase consumer demand for whale meat are a step backwards for the conservation of whales.
“New Zealand will continue to reinforce our support for the moratorium on commercial whaling, which has been in place for over 30 years.
“The recent departure of Japan’s whaling fleet to the western North Pacific once again goes against the recommendations of the International Whaling Commission, its Scientific Committee and its expert panels.
“Japan is persistently failing to justify the need to kill whales in the name of research, in both the North Pacific and the Southern Ocean.
“Japan’s actions risk seriously undermining cooperation within the International Whaling Commission, which New Zealand continues to support as the forum to manage these issues,” Mr Brownlee says.
The International Whaling Commission was established in the 1940s as the body responsible for the conservation and management of whales.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced diplomat Jonathan Schwass as High Commissioner to Vanuatu.
“New Zealand and Vanuatu have close and long-standing ties,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In the last year, more than 4,000 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Vanuatu were in New Zealand – representing about 40 per cent of the total workers in the scheme.
“The RSE scheme has been an enormous success over the last decade and, at an estimated $20 million a year for those 4,000 workers, the earnings have a significant effect on livelihoods in Vanuatu.
“Mr Schwass will lead the delivery of New Zealand’s Official Development Programme in Vanuatu, helping to oversee $82 million of investment over three years with a focus on tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and education,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Schwass is currently Unit Manager of the South East Asia Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was previously Ambassador to Timor-Leste.
A new sporting partnership will promote healthy lifestyles and encourage teenagers in the Pacific to take part in sport, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
The Pacific Sporting Partnership – Sports for Health Rugby programme kicked off yesterday at the Pacific Nations Cup test match between Samoa and Fiji.
“New Zealand and the Pacific Islands share a proud sporting tradition and it is great to use this to help promote healthy lifestyles in the Pacific,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Sports for Health programme is about ensuring children learn about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle from a young age, while also gaining skills like team work and fair play.
“New Zealand is providing $4 million over five years for the rugby component, which will be delivered in partnership with New Zealand Rugby. In Samoa, the initiative will be delivered through villages and schools.
“It will introduce children in the Pacific to a fast, non-contact version of rugby known as ‘Quick Rip’, which is already popular in New Zealand. It requires no conversions, meaning there’s no need for goal posts or formal playing fields.
“A healthy lifestyles awareness campaign will run alongside regular coaching sessions and games for 14 to 18-year-old boys and girls.
“At the end of the nine-week programme, the teams will take part in a Quick Rip tournament to celebrate their participation,” Mr Brownlee says.
Samoa is the first country where New Zealand Rugby is rolling out the programme, working with their Samoan counterparts. Planning for the rollout of the programme in Fiji, the Cook Islands, and Tonga is under way.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has confirmed that United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit New Zealand from 23-25 July.
“New Zealand and the United Kingdom enjoy a close and enduring friendship,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We share extensive defence and security links as well as significant business and investment ties.
“We also have a common interest in a range of international peace and security matters.
“We welcome Secretary Johnson’s visit as an opportunity to strengthen our close relationship at a time when the United Kingdom is seeking to reshape its relationships around the world following its decision to leave the European Union,” Mr Brownlee says.
While in New Zealand, Secretary Johnson will meet with Prime Minister Bill English and senior ministers, the Leader of the Opposition and participate in a ceremony to dedicate the United Kingdom memorial at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell say the liberation of Mosul is an important milestone in Iraq’s battle against ISIS.
“Losing the symbolic heartland of its so-called Caliphate in Iraq will serve as a severe blow to ISIS fighters and its supporters around the globe,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Through the New Zealand Aid Programme, we’re making a further $1.4 million contribution to the United Nations Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation. New Zealand made a similar contribution to the Fund last year.
“In the short to medium term, the Fund will continue to play a key role in stabilisation efforts, filling the gap between liberation and long-term rebuilding efforts.
“The retaking of Mosul will be a huge relief for its citizens, who have suffered for years under the brutal control of these extremists.
“Restoration of essential services and the rebuilding of physical infrastructure will now be a focus of the Iraqi government.
“While significant, Mosul’s liberation does not represent the end of the battle against ISIS. It will be important for Iraqi Forces to maintain the gains they have made.
“New Zealand remains committed to coalition efforts. Now is the time to demonstrate to ISIS, through our ongoing commitment, that Iraq and the global coalition are dedicated to defeating the terrorist threat,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Mitchell says the success in Mosul highlights the importance of the consolidated global effort invested in defeating the terrorist organisation.
“Although Mosul may seem a long way from New Zealand, we have seen how determined ISIS is to spread its corrupted ideology outside Iraq,” Mr Mitchell says.
“New Zealand is a nation that relies on global stability for our trade and, because we love to travel, we have a direct interest in the global coalition's success.
“Efforts have ranged from military to humanitarian and stabilisation initiatives.
“New Zealand currently has up to 143 personnel deployed to Taji, providing training to Iraqi Forces engaged in battle against ISIS.
“I’m hugely impressed with the work our New Zealand Defence Force has been doing in Iraq, which I saw first-hand last month during my visit to Camp Taji.
“All New Zealanders can be proud of their efforts and know they have made a difference to the Iraqis’ efforts to defeat ISIS,” Mr Mitchell says
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations for a new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the United Nations in New York.
New Zealand joined more than 120 other states in voting in favour of the final text of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Some countries like New Zealand have already enacted a national ban on nuclear weapons. This treaty now provides the first legal prohibition on nuclear weapons at a global level.
“Since none of the states which currently possess nuclear weapons took part in the negotiations, we need to be realistic about the prospects of this treaty leading to a reduction in nuclear weapons in the short term.
“However, the treaty is an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons, which has been a long-held goal for New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
The treaty will be open for signature by states from 20 September 2017 and will enter into force after 50 states have ratified it.
New Zealand will contribute $1.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for crucial humanitarian assistance in Iraq, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is one of the largest and most volatile in the world, with 3.1 million people internally displaced and more than 11 million in need of help.
“New Zealanders are rightly appalled at the civilian toll of this violent conflict,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Many Iraqi people are living in untenable conditions.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an independent humanitarian organisation, able to respond quickly and efficiently to help civilians affected by armed conflict.
“The funding will help meet critical humanitarian needs through providing emergency food, water, healthcare and household items to affected people.
“This latest contribution brings the New Zealand Aid Programme’s humanitarian and stabilisation assistance to Iraq to a total of $4.9 million since 2014,” Mr Brownlee says.