Trade Minister Todd McClay and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, His Excellency Majed AlKasabi the Minister of Commerce and Investment, last week agreed to work towards early completion of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA).
“This is an extremely pleasing outcome from my mission to Saudi Arabia. We can now see a way forward towards the completion of the FTA,” says McClay.
“The next step is for GCC countries to meet and for my officials to get together with the GCC Secretariat, as well as member countries, to finalise agreement.”
Two-way goods trade with the GCC region (our sixth largest trading partner) is worth over $3 billion annually, which includes over $1 billion of trade with Saudi Arabia.
New Zealand exports approximately 5,000 tonnes of beef to the Kingdom each year and accommodates around 3,000 Saudi students who currently study in New Zealand.
“There is clear enthusiasm about the potential for greater cooperation between our highly complementary economies, especially in education and food security,” says McClay.
McClay’s two day visit was to jointly chair the biennial Saudi-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Commission. He also held bilateral meetings with HRH the Deputy Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister; the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Commerce and Investment; the Minister of Education; the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Environment; and the Deputy Minister of Economy and Planning.
In Riyadh, the Minister opened the foundational meeting of the Saudi Arabia/New Zealand Business Council, which was established in April this year by the New Zealand Middle East Business Council and the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
This Business Council provides a regular forum for discussion and promotion of economic, industrial and technological co-operation between New Zealand and Saudi companies.
“Today’s foundation meeting of the Business Council marks an important milestone in New Zealand and Saudi Arabia’s relationship.”
McClay visited Riyadh accompanied by 12 New Zealand companies pursuing joint business opportunities in the Gulf.