New Zealand Embassy Manila, The Philippines

Kiwis and Pinoys — getting closer together

The chair of New Zealand Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee emphasised the growing links between New Zealand and the Philippines in an address at Manila’s De La Salle University today.

Member of Parliament John Hayes is visiting the Philippines primarily to attend the inauguration of President-elect Noynoy Aquino on 30 June.  However, as he noted during his address, he’s also taking a few days to look at what’s going on in the Philippines, and what New Zealand is doing here.

“Our two countries are becoming more intertwined … we have growing people-to-people links.  The trade links that we have with the Philippines are very substantial and, as a frontline member of ASEAN, the Philippines is an important partner as New Zealand increasingly integrates with the wider Asian region.”

“This is a relationship that is growing, becoming stronger, and becoming more diverse,” Mr Hayes said.
 
A focus of the address was the “remarkable” number of skilled Filipino workers choosing to move to New Zealand.  He said that around 35,000 Filipinos now live in New Zealand; nearly 1% of the country’s population.  “They’ve realised that a great opportunity is available in New Zealand, and they’ve taken advantage of it.”

Mr Hayes also discussed the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), which came into force for trade between New Zealand and the Philippines on 1 January.  “This is a groundbreaking free trade agreement for the ASEAN region, the first time it has negotiated a modern, comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services and investment.”

“AANZFTA represents an important building block in the growing East Asian regional architecture — something that we’re very keen to be involved in, and even to be at the forefront of.  We consider ourselves to be increasingly part of this region.”

He also congratulated the Commission on Elections and volunteer groups such as PPCRV, and especially the people of the Philippines, for the “overwhelmingly successful” automated May 2010 election process.

Mr Hayes will be in the Philippines until 2 July.  During that time, he will see a business process outsourcing operation servicing New Zealand clients, visit a dairy farm cooperative and processing operation, as well as meeting some prominent Philippines-based New Zealand business people and Filipinos with business links in New Zealand.

The full text of the speech can be viewed here.

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