Business leaders unite to overcome adversity in Japan and New Zealand

by | Jul 12, 2011 | Media Releases

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Participants at the 3rd Japan NZ Partnership Forum which met in Tokyo on 11 July were humbled by the magnitude of the post-earthquake recovery in both countries and have resolved to step up their co-operation to meet the challenge of rebuilding and growing their economies.

The Forum which brought together over 100 government, business and community leaders from both countries was organized by the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) and partners in Japan and New Zealand.  Hon Philip Burdon, the Chairman of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, co-chaired the event alongside Mr Yoshihiko Miyauchi, Chairman and CEO of Orix Corporation.

“The Forum stood in silent remembrance for lives lost and then received updates on the current situation in Christchurch and Tohoku.  It is clear the situation remains difficult for many in the devastated areas.  We believe business has a role to play alongside government agencies in addressing continuing needs and in accelerating the reconstruction effort”, said Mr Burdon.

Under the theme “Overcoming Adversity, Building the future” discussion at the Forum focused on how both countries could work together to accelerate the disaster recovery and renew shattered communities.

“Seeking to learn from this experience we must ensure that business can quickly recover from natural disasters, markets remain open and regional supply chains can continue to operate to meet consumers’ needs.”

The Forum went on to explore how even closer cooperation between businesses could be fostered by innovation.

“Our discussion pointed to potential opportunities for enhanced co-operation between Japan and New Zealand in a range of areas including renewable/sustainable energy, the built-environment using sustainably produced and engineered timber in advanced design and construction as well as in the more traditional areas of business in added value food and agricultural products”.

The Forum considered the progress currently being made in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and with Japan’s own internal consideration about the merits of TPP membership.

“We outlined New Zealand’s vision for TPP as a viable pathway towards the future Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). The TPP negotiations currently involving nine partners represent a complex understanding.  We discussed in particular what business would like to see emerge from TPP particularly in terms of an agreement which reflects the way business is now being done in the region through increasingly integrated supply and value chains”.

Mr Burdon said support was expressed at the Forum for Japan’s future participation in TPP.

“Japan’s involvement would build critical mass towards a broader free trade area in the region and provide a means to stimulate the competitiveness of the Japanese economy.  TPP could also deliver a freer climate for trade and investment between Japan and New Zealand.  This would enable new momentum to be established in the bilateral economic relationship, ensuring that market share in both countries is not lost to other FTA partners, and opening-up the potential to work together also in third markets”.

Keynote addresses at the Forum were delivered by the New Zealand Trade Minister, Hon Tim Groser, and Japan’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, H E Yutaka Banno.  Both government representatives reaffirmed their commitment to developing the strongest possible bilateral relationship.

NZIBF Chairman Sir Graeme Harrison (also Chairman of ANZCO Foods) said the Forum, now into its 3rd edition, provides a valuable platform for strengthening the relationship and drawing attention to New Zealand capabilities in Japan.

“Japan is a long-standing partner for New Zealand in Asia and there is potential to grow the relationship under the right conditions and with increased focus and investment from both sides.  Japan has some key choices to make about its future economic direction and New Zealand needs to be ready when and if change occurs”.

Sir Graeme said a review of the Forum outcomes would now be undertaken by NZIBF prior to decisions being made about the timing of a fourth Partnership Forum event.

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