The New Zealand Government is deeply concerned about the arrest of Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
“Mr Sokha is a respected advocate for democracy within Cambodia, and we urge the government in Phnom Penh to be clear and open about the case against him,” Mr Brownlee says.
“It is vital for Cambodian democracy that opposition voices are able to be heard,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Sokha was arrested at his home in the Cambodian capital on Sunday and is being held in a prison outside the city. He has been charged with treason.
Mr Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, visited New Zealand in March and met with parliamentarians and officials.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee today named diplomat Pam Dunn as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The ASEAN region is a key political and security partner for New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Ms Dunn will be based in Jakarta alongside our Ambassador to Indonesia, and will work to deepen the trading and political relationship.
“She will also be able to offer New Zealand’s support and expertise in areas such as agricultural development, education, disaster relief, collective security and combating transnational crime.
“Our exports to the 10 ASEAN countries totalled more than NZ$6 billion in the previous financial year, predominantly from goods in the agriculture and forestry sectors but also from services.
“This trade is underpinned by the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).”
“We hope to grow this significant trade and economic relationship, particularly in education and tourism,” Mr Brownlee says.
Ms Dunn was most recently Private Secretary, Foreign Affairs in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and has previously worked in Beijing and Shanghai.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has condemned today’s nuclear test by North Korea as utterly deplorable.
“This is the sixth nuclear test North Korea has conducted and appears to be the largest yet,” Mr Brownlee says.
“It follows two such tests last year and more than a dozen missile tests this year.
“North Korea has again demonstrated its complete disregard for its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions and for international norms against nuclear testing.
“Today’s test is a highly dangerous affront to the entire international community.
“North Korea has a choice. It can continue on this path, inviting further pressure and isolation and entrenching poverty and misery for its own people.
“Or it can choose membership of the international community and the security and prosperity that comes with it. Only North Korea can make this decision.
“New Zealand will join the international community in considering what further measures can be taken in response to this development.
“It is critical that all parties with an interest in supporting peace in the region think very carefully about what is needed to achieve a return to the negotiating table,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has denounced in the strongest terms today’s missile launch by North Korea.
The missile’s flight path took it over Japan, landing in the northern Pacific.
“Directly threatening the safety of the citizens of another country by flying a missile over them is a dangerous new escalation," Mr Brownlee says.
“This is a totally unacceptable threat in a region of considerable importance to New Zealand.
“We stand by Japan in light of this concerning development, and we stand ready to do whatever we can to facilitate respectful dialogue between North Korea and other nations.
“I strongly call on North Korea to come to the table for talks to deescalate this volatile situation,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is disappointed at this morning’s missile launches by North Korea.
“These tests come at a time when cooler heads seemed to be prevailing,” Mr Brownlee says.
“North Korea’s provocative acts indicate no desire to build the trust and respect necessary for the six party talks, aimed at reducing tensions, to resume.
“The question remains, why is North Korea so afraid of dialogue in favour of conflict,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell have announced that the Government has decided to bring home the group of New Zealand SAS troops in Tonga for a jungle training exercise as soon as possible.
"Rather than continuing on to do their scheduled training exercise we've concluded this is a time for Tonga to have some clear air, uncomplicated by the coincidental presence of NZDF personnel in the country," Mr Brownlee says.
"Tonga is clearly in a process of political transition and it's best we leave them to manage that without the added complication of a military training exercise going on.
"King Tupou VI has exercised his constitutional right to dissolve Parliament and we look forward to learning more in the days ahead about Tonga's plans for governance ahead of November's elections."
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says that given the dissolution of government, it is prudent to withdraw from Tonga and carry out the joint training with Tonga at another time.
“The relationship between the NZ Defence Force and the Royal Tongan Defence Force remains strong," Mr Mitchell says.
“This is an annual exercise, with the planning for this year’s event done in November last year, and we will reschedule it for a more suitable time in the future."
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced the appointment of career diplomat Jonathan Curr as High Commissioner to Fiji.
“The Fiji – New Zealand relationship has warmed since 2014, with the reciprocal visits of former Prime Minister John Key and Prime Minister Bainimarama in 2016 a significant milestone,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand’s bilateral engagement with Fiji continues to grow in terms of two way trade, tourism, defence and development.
“New Zealanders travel to Fiji in ever increasing numbers to enjoy the sun and sea, and Fiji is our largest trade relationship in the Pacific.
“We also have close defence links in the Pacific and in international deployments,” Mr Brownlee says.
In 2018 Fiji will be focused on national elections, for which New Zealand is providing technical assistance to the Fiji Electoral Office.
Mr Curr is currently Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, cross-accredited to the State of Israel, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Georgia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
He has also served at the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo and the New Zealand High Commission in Nuku’alofa.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced the appointment of career diplomat Bruce Shepherd as Consul-General to New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna.
New Caledonia and French Polynesia are important partners for New Zealand in the Pacific, both as significant export markets and as full members of the Pacific Islands Forum,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Caledonia is New Zealand’s closest neighbour, and will be holding a referendum on independence in 2018.
“A Joint Cooperation Plan was signed in September 2016 at the Pacific Islands Forum in Pohnpei which sets a framework for closer engagement and cooperation with New Caledonia.
“The Consul General will be working to strengthen those ties, and similarly with French Polynesia, with which New Zealand has strong historical and cultural links,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Shepherd, who is of Ngati Kahu o Torongare descent, was most recently New Zealand’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, and has previously been posted to Myanmar, United Arab Emirates and Tonga.
Mr Shepherd has also worked in Geneva with the United Nations and will be based in Noumea, New Caledonia.
When I met with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson a few weeks ago, one of the things he wanted to talk about was how New Zealand had managed to bounce back so strongly after the Global Financial Crisis.
He was genuinely impressed with our country’s fiscal management and the ability of this government to see the longer-term, bigger picture and allow the market to play out without excessive central government regulation.
We may be a small, geographically isolated country but we’ve been able to buck some of the global economic trends that many other nations have struggled with.
Three months ago, Finance Minister Steven Joyce delivered the National Government’s ninth Budget.
He was able to present significant investments in public services and infrastructure as well as a $2 billion a year Family Incomes Package that will make a tangible difference to New Zealand families.
Our economy is performing well and that’s a tribute to the hard work of New Zealanders.
We have experienced positive growth in all but one quarter over the last six years.
Being prudent, growing open trade negotiations and enabling businesses to be more innovative has paid off.
We’ve had a strong economic plan and now confident companies are investing, exporting and creating new skilled jobs
The Treasury is forecasting real GDP growth of 3.1 per cent on average for the next five years.
Global economic growth is projected by the World Bank to reach 2.7 per cent this year – up from 2.4 per cent in 2016 – and this has been supported by a recovery in manufacturing activity and commodity prices.
For most of the post WWII period, there had been a 2:1 trade to global GDP growth ratio. Following the global financial crisis this ratio evened up.
Global goods trade growth picked up pace in the second half of 2016 and has remained strong in 2017, supported by expanding manufacturing activity.
Global trade growth is expected to reach 4 per cent this year.
Underlying this, United States import growth is forecast to reach 6.2 per cent in 2017, while export growth from China is expected to rise by 3 per cent.
Despite our size, New Zealand is viewed as a leader in free trade and we back ourselves to negotiate large-scale agreements that provide our exporters, importers and regional economies with tangible benefits.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister announced the Trade Agenda 2030 – an ambitious plan that aims to have free trade agreement cover 90 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports by 2030 – up from about 53 per cent at the moment.
To accomplish this means far more than sending our trade officials around the world.
It means forging meaningful relationships and maintaining the high standards we are known for.
The Trade Agenda package includes:A new embassy in Dublin, Ireland and a new High Commission in Sri Lanka –these posts will support our trading relationship with the EU after Brexit and broaden our economic relationship with Sri Lanka; $35.3 million to the Ministry of Primary Industries to focus on boosting the value of our primary sector exports; $20 million for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to focus on improving market access, maximising benefits from existing FTAs and negotiating new ones, helping businesses internationalise and tackling non-tariff barriers; $6.7 million to strengthen our international networks across the globe and boost the availability of consular services for Kiwis overseas; The establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group to ensure the public is better informed on trade issues; The development of a single point of contact to allow exporters to alert the Government to non-tariff barriers and to get better information and support.
As a Government, we’re working hard to help create opportunities for our exporters to compete successfully on the world stage.
And we are incredibly proud to see New Zealanders succeed internationally.
There is so much to gain from advances in free trade, including jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders and it’s important that we take advantage of these global trends while we can.
The latest data suggests that improving global conditions are directly benefiting New Zealand traders.
New Zealand goods exports to China – our leading goods market – gained momentum in the last quarter, increasing 14 per cent to the year ending June 2017.
Goods exports to Australia, the US, Japan and Korea are all up in the last quarter and prices are generally increasing in the Global Dairy Trade auction with seven of the last ten auctions resulting in rising prices.
There are many positives that can be highlighted but, of course, there are still risks to global stability.
These include potential for countries to increase trade protection policies and financial sector variabilities, including mounting financial stability risks in China, political tensions and some very real security issues.
In the last few weeks, I’ve attended meetings in Indonesia and the Philippines that have focused on counter-terrorism, cross-border conflict, cyber security and other issues important to the Asia Pacific region, like the South China Sea and Korean peninsula.
It’s very clear that all countries in that region except North Korea have no interest in any kind of conflict that would halt or redirect their economic growth.
With China, Russia, the US and Japan along with all ASEAN countries calling for dialogue and dampening of tensions. For each of them and for us, the trade agenda remains important.
While a lot of the international rhetoric may be about protectionism and the view that some major players are turning inwards, we now have a more interconnected world marketplace than ever before and the introduction of new measures appears to be slowing.
The latest World Trade Organisation monitoring report shows members introduced fewer trade restrictive measures in 2016 compared to 2015, when new measures averaged about 20 a month.
Since I assumed the Foreign Affairs portfolio about three months ago, we’ve launched free trade negotiations with the Pacific Alliance, of which Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru are members.
These four nations are home to 221 million consumers and have a combined GDP of US3.8 trillion.
The PACER Plus agreement has been signed to provide social and economic benefits to many Pacific nations.
The $55 million development package will also help cut red tape for New Zealand businesses and will establish a common set of trading rules.
Thailand and New Zealand have agreed to market access improvements for our exporters, we’ve started high-level talks with Washington under the Trump administration and we’ve solidified our position high up the queue for a post-Brexit FTA with the UK.
Earlier this year we signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership 11, and officials will be assessing the options to bring TPP11 into force.
TPP11 will ensure our exporters remain competitive in important markets and will support jobs in all regions of New Zealand.
In three years’ time, New Zealand will be able to showcase its innovative products and services on the world stage at Dubai 2020 – a world expo that will likely attract 25 million visitors from across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
In short, the outlook for New Zealand exporters is bright and, as we all know, a strong export economy produces positive knock-on effects for every single New Zealander.
I hope many of you in this room share the confidence I have in our country and continue to work towards an even more prosperous future for New Zealand.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today announced Mark Ramsden will be New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union
“Our relationship with Ethiopia and the African Union has strengthened considerably since New Zealand established a diplomatic presence in Ethiopia in 2011,” Mr Brownlee says.
“As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2014-2016, New Zealand closely engaged with Ethiopia and the African Union on peace and security issues of importance to Africa.
“New Zealand is focused on building on our trade and economic relationships.
“A growing number of New Zealand companies are interested in East Africa, including Fonterra that has established a joint venture in Ethiopia.
“We will continue our successful development partnership with the African Union and Ethiopia, building on the recent New Zealand-African Union Geothermal Partnership and dairy development activities with Ethiopia,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Ramsden is currently the New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji and has previously been posted to the Solomon Islands, New York, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.
Mr Ramsden will also be accredited to Djibouti, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.