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Groser leaves for trip to sign Asean deal

National Business Review, New Zealand

Groser leaves for trip to sign Asean deal

17 February 2009

NZPA/Trade Minister Tim Groser departs today for India and Thailand where he will sign the trade deal with the Asean group of nations.

Mr Groser said trade liberalisation would be high on his agenda throughout the trip.

In New Delhi, discussions will be held on the India/New Zealand Joint Free Trade Agreement Study and in Thailand Mr Groser will sign the 12 country Asean/Australia/ New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

The trade deal study with India is in its closing stages and is seen as a key step towards the possible launch of trade talks.

"An agreement with India is potentially of huge long term importance to New Zealand. India is becoming a regional and global powerhouse - it is already a significant source of global capital and of specialist skills such as IT, science, and engineering," Mr Groser said.

"While in India, I will also take the opportunity to talk with key Indian opinion makers about the global economic situation and international climate change."

Mr Groser then travels to Hua Hin, Thailand, where he will join with his Australian and Asean counterparts to sign the Asean trade deal on February 27.

"Concluding this FTA is a huge achievement and will create new opportunities for New Zealand exporters and investors with one of the world’s most dynamic economic regions," Mr Groser said.

"At this time of real global economic pressure it is a significant result. It sends an important signal to the international community about the importance of continuing regional economic integration and resisting protectionism."

Mr Groser returns to New Zealand on March 1.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, is made up of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao, Myanmar and Cambodia.

It represents a market of more than 566 million people and accounts for more than US$1,400 billion in global trade. The region is of increasing importance to New Zealand, ranking as the third largest export market - exports to the region having grown 121 percent since 2000 and worth around $4.6 billion in 2008.