NZ, PH ink deals to strengthen ties

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS - @RonWDomin­goINQ By Ron­nel W. Domingo A RE­PORT FROM JO VIC YE E —WITH

Three agen­cies of the New Zealand gov­ern­ment on Tues­day signed mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) with two of their Philip­pine coun­ter­parts as well as Philip­pine Air­lines to firm up the two coun­tries’ co­op­er­a­tion in tourism, en­ergy re­sources and weather ser­vices.

New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda An­dern wit­nessed the sign­ing.

“I see as a real pos­i­tive that my first ma­jor visit (as prime min­is­ter) out­side New Zealand is to South­east Asia,” An­dern said dur­ing the sign­ing cer­e­mony held at the New World Ho­tel in Makati.

“New Zealand has rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of this re­gion for more than 40 years,” said An­dern, who as­sumed of­fice only on Oct. 26.

Ardern also said that the agree­ments rep­re­sented the two coun­tries' “com­mon in­ter­est in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and tourism, and com­mit­ment to deal­ing with chal­lenges like cli­mate change and re­new­able en­ergy.”

She took par­tic­u­lar note of the MOU be­tween the Philip­pine flag car­rier and state agency Tourism New Zealand.

In light of this, PAL pres­i­dent Jaime Bautista said the air­line was es­tab­lish­ing thrice-weekly di­rect, non­stop flights be­tween Manila and Auck­land start­ing Dec. 6.

Bautista said these would re­place PAL flights that cur­rently pass through Cairns in Queens- land, Aus­tralia, which took 12 hours.

“This will shorten travel time by two hours,” he said.

It was es­ti­mated that the new non­stop flights would in­ject NZ$13.6 mil­lion—about P478 mil­lion—an­nu­ally into the New Zealand econ­omy.

Stephen Eng­land-Hall, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Tourism NZ, said that for the 12 months end­ing Septem­ber 2017, more than 23,000 Filipinos vis­ited his coun­try.

“The value of the Philip­pine mar­ket is not just based on vol­ume growth, but also the fact that Filipino trav­ellers stay a long time in New Zealand, with those on hol­i­day stay­ing an av­er­age of 14.9 days — the high­est across our South and South­east Asia mar­kets,” he said in a brief­ing.

Also yes­ter­day, the Depart­ment of En­ergy signed with New Zealand’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade agree­ments re­lated to train­ing of per­son­nel on re­new­able en­ergy re­sources, in­clud­ing geother­mal en­ergy.

En­ergy Sec­re­tary Al­fonso Cusi said in an in­ter­view the co­op­er­a­tion was more about skills and knowl­edge than on in­fra­struc­ture and projects.

A third MOU was signed be­tween New Zealand’s Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices and the Philip­pine At­mo­spheric, Geo­phys­i­cal and As­tro­nom­i­cal Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which was de­scribed as a co­op­er­a­tion mainly on shar­ing of data.

Ac­cord­ing to New Zealand data, the Philip­pines was its 22nd largest trad­ing part­ner at $1.1 bil­lion yearly.

The Philip­pines sources dairy prod­ucts, wood and pa­per pulp from New Zealand, while ship­ping out fruits and nuts, print­ing ma­chin­ery and elec­tron­ics.

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