Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario made an official visit to New Zealand on August 21 and 22, upon the invitation of Foreign Minister Murray McCully.
The visit, which reciprocates the visit of Minister McCully to the Philippines just last month on July 17 and 18, sets another milestone in Philippine-New Zealand relations, preparing the way for the State Visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III in October.
Secretary del Rosario kicked off his visit with a lunch meeting on August 21 with the Board of Directors of the New Zealand-Philippines Business Council, which included Dairyland Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ambassador Graeme Waters, Special Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as officials of the Philippine Embassy in Wellington.
The Secretary noted the increasing business activities between the Philippines and New Zealand, as more companies in both countries explore and engage in business and investment opportunities in the dairy, information technology (IT), geothermal and other sectors.
Secretary del Rosario attended a dinner meeting hosted by Minister of Trade Tim Groser, who also invited executives of dairy giant Fonterra, geothermal energy generator Contact Energy, and pre-eminent business group Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) Inc. as well as a prominent columnist from the New Zealand Herald and New Zealand ‘s Foreign Ministry and Trade (MFAT) officials.
The Secretary briefed Minister Groser on the steadily improving business climate of the Philippines, in view of President Aquino's campaign towards good governance, transparency and accountability.
They also exchanged views on various regional and international matters, such as New Zealand's policy to actively pursue and conclude free trade agreements.
On August 22, Secretary del Rosario met with Minister McCully to discuss the agenda, programme and deliverables for President Aquino's State Visit.
Among the deliverables are the signing of the Working Holiday Scheme Arrangement and a possible Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Geothermal Energy Cooperation, and the finalization of the Philippine Dairy Development Program.
The two ministers also talked about other bilateral initiatives as well as the changing regional and international architecture. They also noted the growing ties between the Philippines and New Zealand, with Filipinos accounting for nearly 1% of New Zealand's population at around 36,000.
Secretary del Rosario expressed great satisfaction with his meetings with Ministers Groser and McCully and the Philippine business community in New Zealand. He said he was pleased with the “compelling opportunities” for cooperation, citing New Zealand as good and reliable partner for the Philippines.