4 March 2013
Southeast Asian business leaders from fields as diverse as green energy, halal foods and agribusiness will visit New Zealand in 2013 through the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative.
The initiative - run by the Asia New Zealand Foundation for the New Zealand Government - was created to strengthen links between New Zealand and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Up to 18 business leaders from the 10 member countries of ASEAN are expected to visit New Zealand in 2013, the second year the Foundation has run the programme.
In 2012, 15 business leaders came to New Zealand, representing a range of industries, such as aviation in Indonesia, telecommunications in Myanmar, property development in the Philippines, and the Thailand film industry. All 10 ASEAN member countries were represented by at least one participant.
The first 2013 participant, Malaysia’s Ahmad Fuad Abdullah, has already visited New Zealand. Abdullah, the founder of premium halal food company Victoria Crest, visited meat works and companies from Invercargill to Auckland.
Upcoming participants include:
- Norliana Alda Ramil (Malaysia), a senior manager at petrochemicals company Petronas
- Nguyen Duong Tuan (Vietnam), of award-winning clean energy company BK-IDSE
- Jaray Laodamrongkul (Thailand), of agribusiness conglomerate CP
Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Adam McConnochie, who manages the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, says the project has generated a huge amount of goodwill between New Zealand and ASEAN, led to business deals and joint venture agreements and allowed both sides greater insight into their respective markets.
Participants have also benefited from attending professional development courses at New Zealand universities. “The benefits have been significant for both sides – New Zealand business has gained valuable insights into ASEAN markets and made important connections with ASEAN businesses. The business leaders themselves have been exposed to best practice in a variety of industries, interacted with business leaders all around the country, and gained from professional development opportunities.”
McConnochie says the private sector has shown high levels of interest in the project. Participants have engaged with many of New Zealand’s biggest companies – such as Fonterra, Foodstuffs and Telecom – as well as innovative smaller enterprises like Orion Health and Weta Workshop.
“Government and business organisations such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Business NZ and the ASEAN New Zealand Combined Business Council have been hugely supportive, and contributed significantly to the success of the project in 2012.”
ASEAN New Zealand Combined Business Council director David Catty said many New Zealand businesspeople still remembered, and benefited from, the Colombo Plan, which brought Southeast Asian students to New Zealand to study in the 1950s and 1960s.
“In fact, throughout Southeast Asia, you still encounter people who studied in New Zealand under the plan and have fond memories of the country. There’s no doubt it has helped to open doors and facilitate good business.”
He said the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative was smaller in scope, but a step in the right direction.
The council had met all of the 2012 participants and was impressed by their achievements, and entrepreneurial qualities. “I’d be highly surprised if many of them didn’t go on to be highly influential in their business spheres – a good place for good feelings about New Zealand to be stored.”
For more information, contact:
Asia New Zealand Foundation media adviser
04 470 8701