King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain will visit New Zealand next week.
They will be accompanied by Spain’s Foreign Minsiter Miguel Angel Moratinos and Secretary of State for Trade Silvia Iranzo.
“I am delighted to host King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia. Their visit presents a unique opportunity to enhance understanding and visibility of New Zealand at the highest levels in Spain,” says Mr Key.
“New Zealand’s relationship with Spain is on the cusp of an exciting phase of further development, with the prospect of increased trade, investment and tourism.
“Our two countries are also seeking to expand education, science and technology, and cultural links.
“In recent years, high-level bilateral political interaction has strengthened considerably,” says Mr Key.
When New Zealanders travel overseas we are accustomed to people in other countries having only a vague, if any, idea about New Zealand.
But in Spain when people asked where we were from, almost all reacted with a smile when they heard nueva zelanda and responded by saying, “el pais más lejos de españa,” – the country furtherest from Spain.
They also knew us because of los kiwis – kiwifruit. Spain is one of the biggest markets (maybe the biggest?) for our kiwifruit and we saw them everywhere fruit was sold from the biggest supermarkets to the smallest neighbourhood stores.
Farmers we spoke to had some knowledge of, and respect for, our sheep industry too.
Spain suffered from the years of oppression under Franco but it has been rapidly catching up. When we lived there four years ago, the EU was pouring billions of euros in to infrastructure and the country with a positive flow on effect on the economy.
New Zealand’s former dependence on British markets blinded us to opportunities in other parts of Europe in the past. This visit will provide opportunities for trade and other relationships to our mutual benefit.