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Air service agreements cornerstone of New Zealand trade strategy for Gulf


17:40, June 27, 2013

WELLINGTON, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government launched a new strategy to expand trade with Arabian Gulf countries, including opening up air services, on Thursday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully launched the New Zealand Inc Strategy for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) during a speech to the New Zealand Middle East Business Council in Auckland, saying New Zealand had a strong relationship with the Gulf region.

"Our exports to the GCC currently exceed 1.5 billion NZ dollars (1.17 billion U.S. dollars) a year, and have grown at an average of over 10 percent for the past three years," McCully said in a published speech.

"However there are further opportunities for New Zealand. The states of the GCC are diversifying their economies and looking for long-term partnerships to deliver the skills and technology they need, particularly in food security and environmental management," he said.

The strategy outlined how New Zealand could work with the GCC and leverage complementary skills, said McCully.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement that a cornerstone of the strategy was the "high quality, liberalizing air services agreements" reached with the United Arab Emirates ( UAE), Qatar and Kuwait.

"These open skies agreements pave the way for more direct flights to and from the GCC region," he said.

"The agreements also have the potential to improve New Zealand' s connectivity with Europe and Africa through the GCC. Both Emirates and Qatar Airways are fast-growing airlines that fly to multiple destinations, in many cases bypassing congested hubs," Brownlee said.

The education initiatives in the strategy should increase student air travel from New Zealand's seventh largest education market, while the strategy's high value export initiatives should increase demand for air freight capacity.

The new Kuwait and amended UAE agreements were concluded at the week-long International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in December 2012, where Ministry of Transport officials negotiated seven new or amended agreements.

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