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Final blog from Ottawa

11th October 2012 by Andrew Needs, Ottawa | No Comments

Minister McCully with Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade the Hon Arnold Nicholson

Minister McCully greets the Hon Arnold Nicholson as the Hon Arnaldo Brown, Minister of State looks on

A new and evolving part of Ministry lore is our use of social media as a vital component in pursuit of New Zealand’s interests overseas.  When I started blogging in 2010 the Ministry was taking early and tentative steps into a space where, once you say something, it is in the public space for eternity.  I have enjoyed immensely this part of my role.  I have averaged one blog a week, although the past six weeks have been an exception as my exit preparations and Ministerial visits have made this an exceptionally busy period.  Given the open nature of blogging distribution, choosing how to shape your message for what will be a very varied audience, is a challenge.  My main aim has been to inform and hopefully demystify the work of a New Zealand diplomat.

The back-to-back Ministerial visits were by New Zealand Trade Minister, Tim Groser to Ottawa and Toronto and Foreign Minister Murray McCully to Jamaica.

The centre-piece of Minister Groser’s visit was an extensive series of calls on Federal Ministers, including his counterpart Trade Minister, Ed Fast; Environment Minister, Peter Kent (Minister Groser is also responsible for Climate Change issues); Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz and Minister of State for Finance, Ted Menzies.  A key topic of conversation was Canada’s impending entry into the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  In fact Minister Groser will formally welcome Canada (and Mexico) into this group in Auckland from 3-12 December at the next (15th) negotiating round.   Canada’s entry into the TPP is a significant development, and one we welcome as providing common platform for deepening our trade and economic relationship. Canada’s entry is also a practical example of Canada’s recent efforts to step-up its engagement in the Asia-Pacific, which New Zealand is pleased to see.

Talking of which, the Minister was also a guest of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives when he was here, participating, together with many Canadian trade and economic policy luminaries, in the Council’s Conference on Canada in the Pacific Century. Minister Groser was able to share New Zealand’s experience on international trade, and particularly on foreign direct investment, where our two countries are grappling with similar issues. Canada’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific was also a hot topic during the Minister’s visit to Toronto where he met with media and a small group of businesspeople, think-tanks and academics. All in all it was a very interesting and successful visit that reinforced the much greater affinities than differences between our two nations.

I made my final trip last week as High Commissioner to Kingston, Jamaica, to support the visit of Minister McCully.  The Minister flew in from a busy few days in New York where he had addressed the General Assembly.  This was the Minister’s first bilateral visit to Jamaica. Discussions between the Minister and Prime Minister Simpson Miller and his counterpart, Foreign Minister Nicholson included ways in which the Caribbean and Pacific regions could look to work more closely on shared challenges.  Both Prime Minister Simpson Miller and Minister McCully hold their country’s Sports portfolio.  Inevitably, given our respective successes at the London Olympics, as well as the West Indies team’s success in recent cricket endeavours, sports was also a point of lively conversation.

I am now returning to Wellington to take on my new role managing our Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry’s Pacific Division.  I hope you have found my Ottawa blogs informative. 

I welcome any feedback.

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