ASEAN as the unique glue bringing peace and prosperity to the region

TGVN. Although New Zealand may appear far away on a map, we consider ASEAN our close neighbours.
Vietnam, New Zealand aim to lift bilateral ties to new high
Vietnam, New Zealand lift bilateral ties to strategic partnership
new zealand ung ho manh me vai tro trung tam cua asean
Ambassador of New Zealand to Vietnam Wendy Matthews.

New Zealand and ASEAN share a long-standing friendship, grounded in New Zealand being one of ASEAN’s earliest dialogue partners and a strong proponent of ASEAN’s centrality in regional affairs. ASEAN’s important place in New Zealand’s foreign and trade policy is reflected in the depth and breadth of our cooperation across the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of ASEAN.

We enjoy frequent and warm high-level political engagements, and work closely together on security and economic issues to help make our region safer and more prosperous. New Zealand’s ASEAN development programme is our largest outside of the Pacific and has contributed just under NZ$500 million to the region in the past five years.

New Zealand is a consistent and strong supporter of ASEAN’s centrality in the region, while maintaining strong relations with all ten member states. New Zealand and ASEAN are also natural partners on the regional and multilateral stage, underscored by a common commitment to upholding the fundamental rules and norms that allow countries of all sizes to have a voice.

New Zealand attaches great value to our trade and economic relationship. This is based on a shared commitment to the rules-based trading system, a desire for greater regional integration, and recognition of the benefits of trade and sustainable economic development to the prosperity of our peoples. Today, ASEAN is our fourth-largest trading partner. Two-way trade stands at almost US$ 12 billion, and has grown by over two-thirds in the decade since we signed the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), which is scheduled to be upgraded. New Zealand now trades more with ASEAN each week than we did each year in the early 1970s. We continue to work with ASEAN partners to support greater ease of doing business and increased prosperity in the region.

Although New Zealand may appear far away on a map, we consider ASEAN our close neighbours. Our people-to-people links are a crucial part of our relationship. ASEAN is often a gateway for our people and businesses to the rest of Asia and the world. Diaspora and communities from all across the ASEAN region have an important place in New Zealand society and are a part of our celebrated diversity.

We acknowledge that ASEAN has been the unique glue that has brought peace, prosperity and stability to a region with massive diversity for over five decades, and commend the significant advances it has made in that time.

This year is an important milestone for New Zealand and ASEAN, as we mark the 45th anniversary of our partnership. It is a chance for us to reaffirm our partnership and recommit to deepening our ties. The unexpected challenges we are all grappling with this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic further underscores the need for us to work together as partners to ensure our region remains strong and resilient.

As we reflect on our 45 years of cooperation, we also look ahead to further deepening our relationship and working together to build back from COVID-19. We want to focus on the areas where New Zealand and ASEAN’s strengths and interests converge. New Zealand intends to focus on four broad themes of cooperation with our ASEAN partners, which we have called People, Peace, Prosperity, and Planet:

The People theme will maintain New Zealand’s long-standing legacy of contributing to building capacity, fostering connections, and sharing skills and knowledge in the region. This recognises the importance New Zealand places on the development of the region’s people, particularly current and future leaders and thinkers, entrepreneurs, and the youth.

The Peace theme will strengthen cooperation to promote regional peace and security. This includes regular dialogue at all levels and greater cooperation on traditional and non-traditional security issues such as countering terrorism and violent extremism, countering transnational crime, border security and disarmament. We also have a focus on capacity-building and public sector leadership, including in areas such as good governance and human rights.

The Prosperity theme will deepen ASEAN and New Zealand’s commitment to a more prosperous and economically integrated region, including upgrading AANZFTA and concluding the ASEAN-New Zealand Regional Air Services Agreement. Some key areas of focus will also include reinforcing business linkages and supporting trade facilitation, supply chain connectivity, economic policymaking capability, and helping narrow the development gap.

The Planet theme will focus on advancing cooperation directed at environmental resilience, climate change and sustainability issues. In particular, it aims to support capacity building and governance on climate change, resilience and environmental policy issues including areas such as reducing agricultural emissions, promotion of renewable energy, and fossil fuel subsidy reform.

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Wendy Matthews
Ambassador of New Zealand to Vietnam