Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Singapore, Australia, and Switzerland from November 16 to December 6 for a wide-ranging programme focused on building on New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery by furthering the country’s economic and trade objectives across the Indo-Pacific region and through the WTO multilateral system.
“I am looking forward to strengthening ties with partners across the Indo-Pacific region, and attending the critically important World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference.
“A more prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific region, and a strong multilateral trading system, are vital for New Zealand’s economic and trade interests,” O’Connor says
“I am particularly pleased to be engaging in these discussions so soon after New Zealand’s successful hosting of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, where APEC partners resolved to energise the region’s economic recovery.”
Damien O’Connor will first travel to Singapore, where he will meet Singapore Minister of Trade Gan Kim Yong and attend a gala dinner hosted by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
He will also participate in the Bloomberg New Economy Forum where leaders from government and business will address inclusive economic recovery from the Covid pandemic, boosting digital economy initiatives, and reaching zero carbon economy objectives.
While in Singapore, O’Connor and a small group of other ministers will meet with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to discuss the proposal for an Indo-Pacific Economic Partnership, announced by US President Biden at the East Asia Summit last month.
A separate bilateral meeting with Secretary Raimondo will be an opportunity for Minister O’Connor to discuss the Indo-Pacific Economic Partnership in more depth as well as discuss economic and trade links between New Zealand and the US.
“My programme in Singapore ensures that New Zealand has a seat at the table where some of the most pressing economic issues facing our region will be discussed amongst close Indo-Pacific partners,” he says.
From Singapore, O’Connor will travel to Australia for a programme in Melbourne and Canberra, including meeting with Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Hon Dan Tehan.
He will also meet other Australian federal and state ministers, businesses, primary sector groups, and think tanks.
“My visit to Australia is an excellent opportunity for wide-ranging discussions with New Zealand’s closest partner, including on the trans-Tasman Single Economic Market agenda, our respective and joint economic recovery from Covid-19, and our shared interests in regional and global trade and economic issues.”
In Switzerland, O’Connor will represent New Zealand at the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva.
“The WTO provides the foundation for rules-based trade. Progress at the WTO helps not only with trade, but the environment and the global Covid-19 recovery too.
“New Zealand will work with WTO members to deliver a meaningful trade response to the global pandemic. New Zealand will also be focused on concluding negotiations to address environmentally harmful subsidies on fisheries, and put in place a new framework to reduce such subsidies in the agriculture sector.
“I will also be launching a Ministerial Statement on the reform of fossil fuel subsidies, supported by at least 40 WTO Members.
“With APEC 2021 just concluding, it is a very good time to attend MC12 and impress upon the conference the strong sense of agreement that was gained during New Zealand’s chairing of APEC.
“As a small economy, we need systems that secure and promote the benefits of free and fair trade. They are critical to our recovery from Covid-19.”
O’Connor will also meet with several of his ministerial counterparts from other countries to discuss bilateral and regional trade and economic issues, and progress New Zealand’s ongoing free trade agreement negotiations, as part of the Governments trade-led economic recovery.
The opportunity will be taken to meet New Zealand officials during a stopover in London en route to Geneva.
The small travelling delegation for this visit have been fully vaccinated and will comply with all host government Covid-19 restrictions and testing requirements. Upon return to New Zealand, they will complete the required MIQ period.