Wednesday, April 24, 2024

O’Connor travelling to Europe, US

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Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Europe and the United States this week to advance New Zealand’s trade and economic interests with key partners, including representing New Zealand at the G20 Trade Ministers’ meeting in Italy.
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Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Europe and the United States this week to advance New Zealand’s trade and economic interests with key partners, including representing New Zealand at the G20 Trade Ministers’ meeting in Italy.

It follows recent engagement between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to progress a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU-NZ FTA).

“Securing a high-quality and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand exporters, opening up a market with a population of close to half a billion people,” O’Connor said.

The EU is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner with two-way goods and services trade at over $15 billion per year.

“An FTA with the EU will also provide a more level playing field for New Zealand exporters, contribute to New Zealand’s covid-19 recovery, and to help build a more resilient export profile.

O’Connor will be accompanied by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Secretary and chief negotiator for the EU-NZ FTA Vangelis Vitalis.

During the visit to Europe, O’Connor will travel to Sweden, France, Ireland and Italy, where he will meet with counterparts to discuss the benefits of closer co-operation, including advancing progress towards conclusion of the EU-NZ FTA.

“I have had a number of constructive calls this year with European counterparts across the Union and I have been encouraged by the ambition that they share with New Zealand on the FTA,” O’Connor said.

“New Zealand remains absolutely committed to a high quality and comprehensive FTA with the EU. We are one of the EU’s most like-minded partners, but the lack of an FTA remains a disappointing anomaly that is in both of our interests, and our reach, to resolve.

O’Connor will also represent New Zealand at the G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting, which Italy invited him to attend as chair of the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade.

“This is an important and rare opportunity for New Zealand as a small nation to engage in the G20 format. I believe it reflects well on the broader work Aotearoa New Zealand has undertaken this year as chair of APEC.”

En route to Europe, O’Connor will undertake a series of engagements in the US, including meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

“The United States is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, a key source of high-quality investment and one of our most important international partners. In Washington, I will be talking to US counterparts about how we can work together to keep our bilateral trade and economic relationship on its current growth trajectory.”

O’Connor and his travelling delegation have been fully vaccinated and will comply with any host government covid-19 restrictions and testing requirements. Upon return to NZ on October 15, they will complete 14 days of MIQ.

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