Looking east

The Eurocentric view of the world has always regarded the East as Asia and the Middle East.

But our East is the Americas and while we’ve long established and strong links with Canada and the USA, we haven’t paid nearly as much attention to countries further south.

Prime Minister John Key’s very full agenda on his trip to Mexico, Columbia, Chile and Brazil is a sign that we’re not only recognising the importance of Latin America but keen to do business there.

The presence of Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy on the trip was no coincidence. Agriculture is one of the sectors with the potential to gain from improved relations with, and access to, Latin America.

Results from the trip include:

* The extension of the Chilean Government’s “Penguins Without Borders” scheme, through which high-achieving Chilean students travel to New Zealand for six-monthly study visits.

* A pledge for further trade and economic co-operation between Chile and New Zealand.

* A willingness for improved strategic co-operation between Colombia and New Zealand which could provide opportunities for New Zealand companies to enter into joint ventures and offers significant potential to increase our exports of agricultural services.

* A commitment to stronger trade relations with Mexico.

The Prime Ministerial visit has opened doors.

It’s now up to businesses to make the most of the opportunities this provides.

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