Jacinda Ardern to lead first trade mission since travel lockdown

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will visit Singapore and Japan in April as part of New Zealand’s first trade mission since the country’s borders closed.

Ardern will be joined by Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor and 13 other business leaders.

“New Zealand is open for business,” Ardern said.

“This first trade mission is part of our larger plan to reconnect with the world following the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s been just over two years since Covid-19 hit New Zealand’s shores, prompting us to close borders to protect lives and livelihoods.

“Now we have to keep reconnecting with the world,” Ardern said.

The business delegation will include representatives from Aotearoa’s dairy, food and beverage, technology, tourism and renewable energy sectors.

In Singapore, Ardern will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and visit President Halimah Yacob.

She will also address Singapore’s leading entrepreneurs and business leaders at a gala dinner in New Zealand.

At the request of the Singapore government, the Arderns will also participate in a customary welcome ceremony and witness an unveiling of Kūwaha at Gardens by the Bay, a symbol of the strong cultural ties between the two countries.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan, Ardern will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for the first time.

She will address the Japan-New Zealand Business Council, meeting with high-level business and industry leaders from the country.

Ardern will also highlight New Zealand’s tourism and education sectors through events with Japanese media and education partners.

O’Connor said unlocking key markets is a pillar of New Zealand’s trade recovery strategy.

“Japan is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner.

“Our two-way trade totaled NZ$8.34 billion for the year ending December 2021.

“Singapore is our fifth largest with a total of NZ$6.56 billion in bilateral trade over the same period.

“We will do all we can to help our New Zealand businesses and exporters gain wider access and deeper connections within these important markets,” O’Connor said.

Ardern and his delegation will return on April 24.

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