Verve Article - April 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Celebrating growing ties with Korea.

One of the most striking features of Auckland is its diverse range of ethnicities.  This area, centring on the Epsom electorate, has large and expanding communities of peoples from many countries across Asia, including the Indian subcontinent.  This is changing our neighbourhoods, schools and businesses, bringing many challenges and even more opportunities.  Nobody could deny that Auckland is now a more interesting city than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Korean migrants are an important group, comprising close to 4 per cent of the Epsom electorate.  Since I began learning Tae Kwon Do, a Korean martial art, more than 20 years ago, I’ve had a keen interest in the culture.  It’s good to have so many hard working Koreans living amongst us.

Alongside migration we have also seen a great trading relationship flourish between our two countries.  Korea is our sixth largest export destination for goods and services, and our eighth largest import source. Our two-way trade totals $4 billion, as of June 2014.  Like many Kiwis, I drive a Korean car and watch a Korean television; but it’s good to know that so many Koreans are consuming our exports – often around the dining table.

This month the Prime Minister visited Korea to sign the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This will provide Kiwi exporters major savings. Currently, around $229 million is paid by exporters as duties. Tariff reductions in the first year alone will save an estimated $65 million. The removal of tariffs on products such as wine, kiwifruit and certain cheeses will be a boon for those New Zealand export industries.

The FTA will also provide better protections for New Zealand investors in the Korean market, and reinforces our position as an attractive, stable investment option.

The FTA is yet to come into force, but the Government is working hard to bring it into force as soon as possible, so that both countries can begin seeing the benefit.

Trade agreements, such as the FTA with China that has seen huge export growth in six years, this one being signed with Korea now, and the Trans Pacific Partnership still being negotiated with 12 Asia-Pacific countries, all help to open up markets for Kiwi exporters.  Exports drive New Zealand economic growth.

The National Government is working hard to secure the best conditions for Kiwi businesses and exporters. We are holding our own on the world stage with top-tier economies, and we are continuing to work for New Zealand.