McCully talks stronger trade links with New Caledonia
PALOMA MIGONE IN NEW CALEDONIA
A trade agreement between New Zealand and New Caledonia is being explored as both countries work at strengthening economic ties.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully today had talks with President Harold Martin about developing a closer relationship.
"Our talks this morning have centred on how we might put in place improved architecture for trade and economic relations, and also how we might put in place arrangements that will ensure our business people are able to interact more effectively together,’’ McCully said.
"[Martin] is a strong supporter for us moving down that path and we are encouraging our officials to engage in some discussions.’’
New Caledonia was New Zealand’s closest neighbour geographically, and was the third largest economy in the Pacific.
McCully said any trade discussion could be complicated because New Caledonia was covered by European Union rules and French interests.
"But we want to try and find … a way forward,'’ he said.
New Caledonia was the country’s fourth highest value export market in the Pacific, importing $187 million in 2011.
Milk was New Zealand’s largest export to New Caledonia, followed by wood, and clad iron or non-alloy steel. Other exports included sugar and beef.
On the other hand, New Caledonia exports to New Zealand amounted to $2.7 million because of its overwhelming reliance on mineral exports and local production costs were high.
McCully couldn’t say what shape any agreement between the two countries would take.
Martin has been invited to New Zealand by Prime Minister John Key, a date for the visit has yet to be set.
- © Fairfax NZ News