New Zealand International Business Forum Launch Function 14 June 2007 Opening remarks by the Chairman, Graeme Harrison

by | Jun 14, 2007 | Speeches


Ladies and gentlemen,

My name is Graeme Harrison and it’s my privilege as Chairman of the International Business Forum to welcome you this evening.  Thank you all for joining us.

On your behalf I’d like to welcome the Honourable Lianne Dalziel, Minister of Commerce, who is representing the Government.

The Government will be a key partner of the Forum and I will invite the Minister to address us shortly.

The Forum is fortunate in having attracted a strong Board drawn from the country’s leading internationally oriented companies and peak business organisations.

Allow me to  introduce my fellow Board members who are here this evening:

  • Don Elder, Chief Executive, Solid Energy NZ Ltd
  • Rod Carr, Managing Director, Jade Software Corporation
  • Charles Finny, Chief Executive, Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Tony Nowell, Chief Executive, Zespri
  • Henry van der Heyden, Chairman, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd.

Our other Board members Robin Hapi (Sealord), John Maasland (Auckland International Airport), Jon Mayson (Export New Zealand) and Phil O’Reilly (Business NZ) unfortunately could not be with us.
I would also like to acknowledge Stephen Jacobi who has accepted the role of Executive Director of the Forum.

That we are here at all is the result of a lot of hard work over the last eight months.

Establishing the Forum has been the subject of extensive consultation with business stakeholders and with the Minister’s colleague, the Honourable Phil Goff and his officials.

I would like to extend our grateful thanks to Minter Ellison Rudd Watts which provided legal advice towards our establishment.

We’re here tonight because we believe there is a role for business to work alongside the Government in setting some priorities for New Zealand’s international business engagement.

There is no shortage of studies telling us that we as a country are falling behind our competitors in terms of growing exports and outward and inward investment.

Yet expanding international business is vital for increasing productivity, raising living standards and lifting overall economic performance.

The Government has a clear role to play in putting the place the right external relationships as well as positive economic policies and negotiating improved market access.

But at the end of the day business is done by business: it is we who have the commercial interest, the market knowledge and the contacts and networks that will ensure these efforts are properly focused.

In the case of the United States we have seen how government and business working together can take a key relationship to a new level.

Some of us attended the inaugural Partnership Forum in Washington DC last April which gave rise to a process of relationship building on the part of both governments.

At our Board meeting today we agreed to proceed with a foundation project focused on strengthening New Zealand’s business and economic relationship with Japan.

I am delighted to confirm that the Government will assist us to implement this project both through funding and on the ground assistance from Ambassador Ian Kennedy and his team in Tokyo.

We have chosen Japan because of the size and potential represented by the Japanese economy – the world’s second largest – and the opportunity it represents for New Zealand.

We face stiff competition in the Japanese market and we need to reinvigorate ties across the board.

Over time the Forum intends to develop similar projects in relation to Korea and the European Union while supporting existing efforts with regard to Australia, the United States and China.

We will also facilitate research relevant to New Zealand’s international competitiveness in offshore markets.
We will continue to make the case for international business as well as the importance of open markets.
We intend this organisation to be focused and targeted in our approach.

It makes more sense for us to do a few things well rather than spread ourselves and our resources too thinly.

We will work with anyone who shares our vision of New Zealand enterprises more fully engaged and integrated in international markets.

We are here to steal nobody’s thunder: we are motivated solely by what will deliver value for New Zealand’s international business.

We are here to show leadership and advocate for change: we seek your support and invite you to work with us.

It’s now my pleasure to invite the Minister of Commerce, the Honourable Lianne Dalziel, to speak to us.


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