The Foundation welcomes strategy to build ties with Southeast Asia

12 July 2013

The Asia New Zealand Foundation welcomes NZ Inc’s ASEAN Strategy as an important step to strengthening ties with the vital Southeast Asia region.  
Prime Minister John Key released the strategy - New Zealand’s ASEAN Partnership: One Pathway to Ten Nations -  today [Friday, 12 July, 2013]. It aims to boost investment, trade and economic returns from Southeast Asia.
New Zealand’s ties with the 10 states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have grown steadily in recent decades. Together, those states comprise New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner.
Asia New Zealand Foundation director of research Dr Andrew Butcher says ASEAN is vital to New Zealand’s economic stability.  
“ASEAN and its associated organisations, including the East Asia Summit, give New Zealand entry into important discussions about the region's growth and security. Southeast Asian countries are important to New Zealand trade - we have a free-trade agreement with ASEAN - along with Australia - and many bilateral free trade agreements with individual Southeast Asian countries.
“In addition, most of New Zealand's trade passes through the seas of the region, and it is important that those trading routes are safe, secure and allow for freedom of navigation.” 
New Zealand also has deep historic ties with Southeast Asia, including in security and defence. The Colombo plan, under which students from the region studied in New Zealand, has created long-standing goodwill, but Dr Butcher says New Zealand needs to continue its commitment to the region.  
Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Perceptions of Asia tracking surveys of New Zealanders' views on Asia and its peoples show awareness of ASEAN countries is low. In the past year, the Foundation has released a series of research reports aimed at increasing knowledge about New Zealand’s links to the region.  The most recent, Mind the Gap: New Zealand and Regional Institutions in Southeast Asia, found New Zealand has been highly successful in engaging with Southeast Asia – but is competing with an increasing number of countries for attention in the region. 
The Asia New Zealand Foundation runs a range of programmes aimed at increasing New Zealanders’ knowledge and understanding of ASEAN and its 10 member states. These include: 
  • The ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, which is managed by the Asia New Zealand Foundation for the Government. The initiative brings young business professionals and entrepreneurs from the 10 ASEAN countries to New Zealand for tailored two-week working visits.
  • Track II (unofficial) diplomacy dialogues, including the annual ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Dialogue, which is now in its sixth year. 
  • Business internships for New Zealand graduates at ANZ's offices in Cambodia and Indonesia, and at KPMG in Vietnam.
  • Professional development opportunities for New Zealand journalists in Cambodia, Indonesia and Philippines. 
  • The Singapore Principals Forum, which offers New Zealand principals the chance to learn more about the region.
  • Wellington’s Southeast Asian night market. 

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Rebecca Palmer
Asia New Zealand Foundation Media Adviser
Telephone: 04 470 8701