Trade Minister heads to Middle East
Trade Minister Todd McClay is in the Middle East to push along free trade negotiations between New Zealand and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Mr McClay is visiting the State of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates from Saturday. He's meeting the UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoor and Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce Khalid Nasser Al Roudhan and others.
"Progress on a GCC FTA will offer greater opportunity for New Zealand companies in this highly competitive market," says Mr McClay.
Talks for an FTA were started in 2007 and were concluded in October 2009 but the agreement needs to be legally and technically verified before it can be signed and ratified, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr McClay said in September that he and his Saudi Arabian counterpart had agreed to work toward completion of the FTA.
The deal was on hold for several years after Saudi Arabia withdrew its support over live sheep exports.
The GCC, which comprises six member states, is New Zealand's eighth largest trading partner, with annual two-way trade exceeding $3.5 billion.
Mr McClay is travelling on to Switzerland to attend a meeting of key WTO trade ministers where he will discuss developments in the multilateral trading system and prospects for progress ahead of the 11th WTO ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires.