Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will tomorrow attend the annual Pacific Islands Forum – Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Fiji.
“As Foreign Minister I’ve made meeting with – or talking to – my Pacific counterparts a priority,” Mr Brownlee says.
“This visit will help strengthen New Zealand’s interests and relationships in the Pacific, including our support for economic development in the region.
“The Forum provides an opportunity for us to work with our Pacific neighbours on common challenges, including regional security, fisheries management and climate change.
“I look forward to the chance to discuss issues of mutual concern with many of my Pacific counterparts,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Pacific Islands Forum is an important voice for greater regional integration in the Pacific,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting lays the groundwork for the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, taking place in Apia from September 6- 8.
Pacific Islands Forum:The Pacific Islands Forum was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum. It is the preeminent Pacific regional organisation, bringing together 18 Pacific members, including Australia and New Zealand. The Forum has played an important role in sustainable fisheries management and supporting renewable energy. The Forum also supports regional security through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands which concluded in June. For the first time French Polynesia and New Caledonia will attend this year’s meetings as full Forum members. New Zealand and nine other members of the Pacific Islands Forum signed the PACER Plus trade and development agreement in Tonga in June.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by announcing the ASEAN@50 Fellowship Programme.
Mr Brownlee is currently in Manila, Philippines where he’s attending ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial consultations, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.
“New Zealand has a thriving relationship with ASEAN and is pleased to join in the 50th anniversary celebrations,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These fellowships provide the opportunity for experts from the ASEAN region to exchange ideas and research in New Zealand on issues.
“The ASEAN@50 Fellowships will target leaders from ASEAN universities, research institutes, think-tanks and businesses to undertake research and public engagement in New Zealand throughout 2018.
“Collectively, ASEAN is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner and the world’s third largest population. Deepening connections with the region is essential for New Zealand’s future prosperity.”
The ASEAN@50 Fellowships will be run, in partnership, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the South-east Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE), at Victoria University of Wellington.
The Southeast Asia CAPE was established this year as part of the New Zealand Government’s Business Growth Agenda.
“Its goal is to support New Zealanders increase business, economic, trade, cultural, and political relationships in the region.
“The Southeast Asia CAPE is one of three centres in place across New Zealand universities – the North Asia CAPE and Latin America CAPE are the other two.
“Between them, the Government has allocated $34.5 million in funding over four years,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors:ASEAN is a political and economic community of 10 South-east Asian nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The CAPEs will be directed collectively by the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Otago and the University of Waikato. Applications for the ASEAN@50 Fellowships will open later this year and the Fellows will arrive in New Zealand next year.
New Zealand is providing $6.5 million over five years to help Cambodia develop a more sustainable horticulture industry, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today.
“As in New Zealand, horticulture is essential to the Cambodian economy,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Cambodia Quality Horticulture Initiative will help Cambodian farmers increase their incomes by diversifying into more sustainable crops and improve production and food safety.”
As part of the initiative, New Zealand Crown Research Institute Plant & Food Research will provide Cambodia with science and innovation expertise to support the sustainable production and distribution of produce to markets.
“The initiative will work closely with local partners that are supporting and sourcing produce from smallholder farmers.
“New Zealand has significant experience developing profitable horticulture supply chains, world-class food safety standards and robust quality assurance measures.
“We are pleased to be able to share this expertise with Cambodia and help its horticulture sector reach its full market potential,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand and Cambodia will soon sign a Partnership Arrangement in Phnom Penh to launch the initiative.
The initiative is part of the ASEAN-New Zealand Strategic Partnership and Plan of Action 2016-2020, which supports agricultural industry training as well as food safety and standards.
The New Zealand and Cambodian governments have a long-standing development cooperation partnership in areas including agriculture, tourism, and scholarships.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today welcomed a United Nations Security Council Resolution strengthening sanctions on North Korea.
Resolution 2371 was passed unanimously following North Korea’s testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles on 4 and 28 July. All North Korean ballistic missile tests are banned under existing Security Council resolutions.
“I have previously strongly condemned North Korea’s illegal and dangerous missile tests, which are a threat to regional stability,” Mr Brownlee says.
Speaking from Manila, where he is participating in the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Mr Brownlee confirmed New Zealand’s strong support for the new sanctions.
“The unanimous action at the Security Council reflects the international community’s grave concern with the ongoing tensions which arise from North Korea’s violations of UNSC resolutions, and the importance of reducing tensions and engaging in dialogue on appropriate terms.
“It is a strong signal to North Korea to change course.
“New Zealand will promptly take steps to implement the resolution.”
Mr Brownlee says attempts to show North Korea there were alternatives to its current actions, including assurances which have been recently given to North Korea that countries are not seeking regime change, the collapse of the regime, or accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
“New Zealand joins the international community in calling on North Korea to see in these statements an alternative path.
“North Korea should comply with Security Council resolutions and take deliberate actions to demonstrate it is prepared to change course accordingly. This would defuse tensions and provide North Korea a path to dialogue,” Mr Brownlee says.
The new Resolution strengthens existing sanctions against North Korea, and specifically targets North Korea’s principal exports including coal, iron, iron ore, seafood, lead and lead ore.
It adds new sanctions designations against North Korean individuals and entities, and bans countries from allowing in additional numbers of North Korean labourers.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will today arrive in Manila to meet with his Asia-Pacific counterparts.
From August 5 to 8, Mr Brownlee will attend ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial consultations, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.
He will also join celebrations to mark the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN.
“ASEAN is a collective of states that aims to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region as well as promoting stability and peace,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand is ASEAN’s second oldest dialogue partner, and has significant political and economic links to the region. ASEAN is also our second fastest-growing trading relationship.
The meetings will be attended by Ministers from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam.
Ministers from Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States will also be in attendance.
“ASEAN plays a key role in the region’s security and both the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum work to address the challenges we collectively face.
“Discussions this year will focus on counter-terrorism, the Korean Peninsula, cyber security, and maritime issues,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors:In 1975, New Zealand became ASEAN second dialogue partner. Australia was first in 1974. In 1994 and 2005 we were founding members of the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit respectively. The establishment of ASEAN followed about 25 years of conflict and instability in the region and has been succeeded by peaceful relations between members and economic growth well above global averages.
ASEAN facts:In 2015, the ASEAN economy was the sixth-largest in the world Collectively, the ASEAN population is the third-largest in the world, after China and India. More than half of the ASEAN population is under 30.
New Zealand will provide a further $4.85 million in relief to humanitarian crises across Africa and Yemen, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
“About 20 million people are at risk of famine and require urgent support across Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In many places, the combination of drought conditions, alongside conflict and outbreaks of cholera, is affecting thousands of people.
"New Zealand will provide $1.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for emergency food, water and healthcare assistance in Yemen and Nigeria.
“We will also provide another $1.5 million to the World Food Programme for emergency food assistance in Somalia and to South Sudanese refugees across the region.
“Addressing the needs of these people, most of whom are women and children, is absolutely critical to stop the spread of hunger and conflict across the region.
“New Zealand will also provide up to $1.85 million to New Zealand non-government organisations for famine prevention and response efforts in the region, building on $1.15 million provided earlier in the year.
“This support reflects the continuing contribution of the public, who have given generously to non-government organisations’ humanitarian appeals over recent months,” Mr Brownlee says.
This funding brings New Zealand's humanitarian assistance to famine relief and prevention efforts in the region to $12 million since the beginning of March.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has denounced the further testing of a ballistic missile by North Korea.
“I’m deeply concerned that North Korea continues to flout its obligations to the international community by testing these missiles – it’s completely unacceptable,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand would encourage North Korea to look at the plight of its people, who are living in less than advantaged circumstances, while the regime spends millions of dollars on its weaponisation programme.
“I spoke to my South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, by phone earlier this week and we discussed the North Korean threat.
“The prosperity of South Korea is well known and similar opportunities would exist for North Koreans if not for its leader’s determination to develop and test these very expensive weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will today arrive in Indonesia to attend a meeting on foreign terrorist fighters and cross-border terrorism.
The sub-regional meeting – co-hosted by Indonesia and Australia in Manado, Indonesia – will ensure New Zealand is well informed about the threat cross-border terrorism and foreign terrorists pose to parts of South East Asia.
Mr Brownlee will also meet with his Indonesian counterpart, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.
“The significant gains made by the coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria do not mean we can be any less vigilant about the potential threat terrorism poses, including in our own backyard,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The ongoing instability in the southern Philippines is an example of that. ISIS has long held the goal of extending its so-called Caliphate into the Asia-Pacific region.
“New Zealand is a key regional player and has a long history of building capacity and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
“Our counter-terrorism contributions are deeply valued by our partners and, now as much as ever, we need to be vigilant against the threat terrorism poses to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific,” Mr Brownlee says.
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.