The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and New Zealand Trade Enterprise (NZTE) hosted an information session and discussion on the Pacific Reset Plan for members of the six Pacific Business Councils at their offices in Auckland on 5 July 2018, 5.30-pm -7.30pm.
Georgina Roberts, Director for Pacific Connections at MFAT together with Tessa Te Mata, Trade and Economic Unit Manager at MFAT and Scott James from NZTE commenced the presentation by describing New Zealand as a Pacific country, linked by history, culture, and politics to other Pacific countries.
She explained New Zealand’s long term strategy to increase its efforts to help improve the economic and social well-being of Pacific island countries under its Pacific Reset plan, for example to progress sustainable development goals; better governance, security, access to health services, education and training and the promotion of a sustainable and inclusive growth of Pacific economies.
New Zealand Pacific engagement
Georgina Roberts identified three avenues for New Zealand’s Pacific engagement:
- Identity: New Zealand has a strong Pacific identity and enjoys special connections with the Cook Islands, Fiji; Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga.
- Security: New Zealand’s national security is directly affected by the Pacific’s stability. New Zealand and the Pacific have a common interest to protect their borders.
- Prosperity: Pacific Island countries with improved economic and social well-being create opportunities for themselves to increase living standards.Tessa Te Mata explained that its engagement is also characterised by five principles:
- A deeper understanding of the Pacific;
- An existing friendship based on honesty, trust and respect;
- A mutual benefit : New Zealand will try to develop mutual solutions for domestic and foreign policy;
- A collective ambition: New Zealand aims to achieve common goals with Pacific partners and external actors by working together on common trade and social issues;
- Sustainability: New Zealand intends to be engaged for long-term goals and continue to promote greater autonomy for Pacific island countries.
The New Zealand government has allocated a further $714.2 million budget over 4 years to the Official Development Assistance fund (foreign aid) that will be distributed to Pacific island countries according to their needs. This funding will also demonstrate to the international community that New Zealand seriously addresses global and regional challenges and is committed to help people in the Pacific region.
Through the Reset Plan, New Zealand has decided to adopt a fresher approach in its foreign policy towards the Pacific island countries which consist of:
- Renewing the focus on leadership diplomacy with the Pacific island countries;
- Stepping up NZ financial contribution to assist Pacific Island countries to enhance their