New Zealand PM brings trade mission to Australia

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New Zealand (NZ) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be making her second official visit to Australia in less than a month as she brings a trade mission of more than 30 New Zealand businesses to Melbourne and Sydney this week in the part of the New Zealand government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists after the COVID-19 lockdown.

“This trade mission is one of many steps this government is taking to reconnect New Zealand with the world while actively strengthening partnerships between government, business and industry,” Jacinda Ardern said in a media announcement of the trip on July 4.

“The 32 New Zealand business leaders joining this trade mission range from some of our largest exporters to small, innovative companies that are relatively early in their export journey, demonstrating the importance of our business relationship with Australia.”

Australia is New Zealand’s second largest trading partner, and two-way trade in 2021 was worth more than NZ$22 billion (US$13.6 billion).

The tourism industry will also be a key part of the trip, with Ardern meeting industry leaders from both countries in Sydney.

Pandemic border controls put in place by the Ardern government have meant that New Zealand’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic with Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) saying the industry lost around 120,000 employees during the pandemic.

New Zealand’s Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Stuart Nash, who is also traveling with the Kiwi prime minister, said Australia is the country’s biggest source of visitors, generating more than A$2.45 billion ($1.66 billion) for the New Zealand economy.

“Australia is also New Zealand’s largest source of visitors with over 1.55 million visitors to our shores in 2019 and contributing over $2.7 billion to the economy. With our borders now openings and the abolition of pre-departure testing, we have created significant opportunities for the resumption of tourism by welcoming our Australian friends back,” said Nash.

Leaders to gather for first leadership forum since 2019

While in Sydney, Ardern will also meet Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for the annual meeting of the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF).

The Forum is being held for the first time since 2019 and allows industry leaders from both countries to discuss issues such as economic ties and recovery, regional security, migration settings and climate change.

“The Forum is an important opportunity to engage with governments and business leaders on both sides of Tasmania on our shared economic recovery in an increasingly uncertain world,” Ardern said.

“On Friday, Prime Minister Albanese and I will hold our annual leaders’ meeting, and it will be an opportunity to exchange more views on a wide range of global issues such as the war in Ukraine and climate change, as well as to discuss important regional issues ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“We have invited key ministers to join our meeting, allowing for a richer discussion on issues of particular interest. Such conversations are more important than ever to face this time of transition and renewal together, as allies and family.

Ardern will travel with seven members of his ministry, including his deputy prime minister Grant Robertson, trade and export minister Damien O’Connor, tourism minister Stuart Nash, immigration minister Michael Wood and minister climate change James Shaw.

Albanian said he was delighted to welcome the New Zealand Prime Minister back after his recent visit in June.

“This will be our second bilateral meeting over the past month, which reflects the closeness of our trans-Tasman relationship. It is truly a family affair,” he said. “I look forward to discussing the ways to strengthen Australia’s ties with one of our closest neighbours.”

The two Prime Ministers will also speak at the Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Awards event and Ardern will deliver a policy speech at the Lowy Institute.

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Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australia-based journalist focusing on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Central Asia region.

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