McClay seeks free trade with Gulf countries
Trade Minister Todd McClay has grand plans for the relationship between New Zealand and the Gulf countries during a visit to the region.
Mr McClay is currently in Kuwait where he's set to attend a series of meetings to discuss free-trade agreements with the Gulf Co-operation Council.
"There's a huge amount of support for New Zealand here in Kuwait and we have a very strong relationship with them," Mr McClay said after a meeting with Kuwait's Commerce Minister Khaled Nasser Abdullah al-Roudan on Tuesday.
"And in fact they want to find other ways for us to not only trade with each other more but invest more and get more Kuwaiti students to New Zealand and perhaps a few more Kiwis to come and visit them here."
Mr McClay said getting a free trade agreement with the GCC countries - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman - would save $19 million a year in duty on New Zealand products sent to those countries.
"And that, in effect, means more jobs in New Zealand," he said.
Negotiations for a free trade agreement with the GCC concluded in 2009 but the steps to a final signing were delayed.