Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with New Zealand's prime minister and members of his government yesterday to discuss strengthening commercial co-operation between the two countries. During the meeting with John Key in Wellington, Sheikh Abdullah emphasized the UAE's desire to further economic trade, WAM, the state news agency, reported.
The UAE was the 19th-most-important trading partner for New Zealand in 2009. The value of exports to New Zealand last year was estimated at Dh1 billion, up from Dh676m in 2008. New Zealand's major exports to the UAE are milk powder, butter and wood. Mr Key praised the UAE's investment environment, which he said had attracted a great number of international businesses in various sectors. Sheikh Abdullah also met with New Zealand's foreign minister, Murray McCully. The two discussed moves to encourage more economic and trade co-operation and more frequent meetings between the interested parties.
Other ministers involved in the talks included Tim Groser, New Zealand's minister of trade, and Heather Roy, the associate minister of defence. Last October, the New Zealand and Gulf Cooperation Council signed a Free Trade Agreement after six rounds of trade negotiations. The legal details are being finalised for submission to the Ministerial Conference later this year. Businessmen from the UAE who accompanied Sheikh Abdullah on the trip also met with their New Zealand counterparts yesterday. During a morning forum organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, they discussed opportunities for trade and investment cooperation between the countries.
In his opening speech, Juma Mohammad al Keit, the executive director of foreign trade affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, said the UAE is one of the most important trading partners of New Zealand in the Middle East. The volume of non-oil trade between the two countries is about Dh932m, reported WAM. Mr al Keit said more investment and trade partnerships should be sought in the fields of energy, tourism, education and agriculture. Alternative and renewable energy represented particularly good potential growth areas, he added.
Sheikh Abdullah's trip to New Zealand follows six days in Australia, where he also met with ministers to discuss strengthening ties. email@example.com