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Deals struck with Thai firms as Key leads delegation

Published: 6:54PM Monday November 18, 2013 Source: ONE News

Five deals have been signed between New Zealand and Thai companies as Prime Minister John Key leads a delegation from 22 Kiwi firms to the South East Asian nation.

Mr Key says it is up to businesses in both countries to take advantage of the opportunities opened up by the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and that it is encouraging to see that happening. 

The five announcements were made during a business lunch in Bangkok.

Global logistics company Mainfreight, a New Zealand domiciled and NZX-listed company, announced plans to open its first Thailand office for its Air & Ocean global network.
      
New Zealand global security company Gallagher plans to expand its operations in Thailand to support growing needs of the ASEAN countries.
 
Orion Health announced it will significantly expand its specialist software development centre in Thailand to support further development of its hospital Information System in collaboration with its partner in Bangkok, Bumrungrad International.
 
New Zealand multinational engineering and professional services consultancy Beca will provide full engineering design services for Greenspot's new soymilk production facility near Bangkok.
 
And New Zealand company Taura announced the launch of a snack product for the Thai market - Wel-B Fruit Bites - which has been produced by Thai company Joe-Ry Family using Taura's URC Mixed Berry fruit flakes. The new snacks will be launched in 7-Eleven convenience stores across Thailand.

ASEAN deal 'bumping'

Mr Key says the ASEAN free trade deal signed with Thailand seven years ago is hitting bumps and he would like to see it sped up.

"It's really getting to the point where we're now bumping up against the phase out of the incentives that were in that deal, or tariffs and quotas that were in that deal," he said.

"So there's opportunities for us to potentially talk to the Thai Government about making that deal go a bit faster."

Thailand is already New Zealand's tenth largest trading partner. But more needs to be done, with Mr Key taking the large Kiwi business contingent to Thailand to further promote their wares.

"One of the strategies of the Government has been to make sure that we're no solely focussed on China," Mr Key said.

"There's a huge and burgeoning middle class right across Asia and Thailand's an important part of that."

In recent weeks Thailand has been rocked by political unrest and protests, much of it aimed at laws being promoted by the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Mr Key is unfazed though and will meet with Ms Yingluck tomorrow for formal bilateral talks.

Broadband

Mr Key, meanwhile, backed up the weekend's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka with an appearance at a United Nations telecommunications forum in Bangkok.

He told the forum about the Government's rollout of ultra fast broadband.

"And so that has involved the New Zealand Government spending a bit over a billion dollars to roll out fibre to 75% of homes across New Zealand," Mr Key said.

Although strangely, Mr Key made no reference to the on-going debate over Chorus's copper broadband prices that threatens the rollout, ONE News political editor Corin Dann reported from Bangkok.

But talking broadband is not the main focus of Mr Key's visit to Thailand, rather it is about getting more out of the seven-year-old ASEAN free trade deal, Dann said.

Mr Key pointed out that last year New Zealand's exports to Thailand totalled more than $626 million, with food and beverage products accounting for $458 million or 73% of that total.

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