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New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in Canada

14th February 2011 by , | No Comments

Between the High Commission here in Ottawa and our Consulate in Vancouver we have a lot of ground to cover, both literally and metaphorically. Looking at a globe tells you Canada is big. Pursuing New Zealand’s interest in and with Canada drives that home in no uncertain terms. For me then, being able to work in a seamless fashion with my colleague, New Zealand Consul General, Claire Eeles, has been vital. From my perspective there has been a high level of complementarity. Claire represents New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), our trade promotion agency, and while we have business all over Canada, Vancouver is the logical locus for that given the city’s (and Provinces) Asia-Pacific orientation, shipping routes to Australasia and of course direct Air New Zealand flights to Auckland. The High Commission has a strong focus on relations with central (Federal) government and in the trade area it is trade policy (i.e. the frameworks that facilitate trade) that takes up much of our time. There is however significant overlap in that I rely on Claire and her team to be our eyes, ears and sometimes mouth, in British Columbia and the other Western Provinces. For our part, the High Commission is heavily linked in to the NZTE lead effort in the promotion of some of our key trade interests, wine being one of significant prominence (see my most recent blog) but food and beverage more generally, and increasingly in non primary products such as defence procurement. Ontario is a major market and we work closely with Claire in that context.

In her time as Consul General, Claire has maintained a sustained record of outstanding achievements. Not surprisingly this has been noticed in Vancouver. Claire has been offered a wonderful opportunity in the private sector, as President and Chief Operating Officer of Moulding & Millwork, the operating subsidiary of Vancouver-based Sauder Industries. The company has 9 manufacturing and around 40 distribution operations across the US and Canada and around 1200 people. While it is affirmation of the skill and energy Claire has brought to her current role, the net effect is that we are losing her. Not entirely however: Claire will remain based in Vancouver and while her new role will very much demand her full time attention, Claire remains a committed and passionate New Zealander, and is keen to remain engaged through the beach-heads programme and in a broader advisory/support capacity. I very much welcome this.

The scale of New Zealand’s operations overseas is such that there is no room for siloed operations. Claire has extraordinary business ability and understands and has embraced the broader vision for New Zealand. Claire also internalised the relationship, in pursuing New Zealand’s interests, between immediate opportunity, that needed to be taken and the more strategic and medium term importance of relationship building for gains over time. She has also played a key role advising some of New Zealand’s key businesses about the best way to approach the North American market. I am sorry to loose Claire from the team, but wish her well.

NZTE is currently interviewing for a new Consul General, so the gap, if any, should be brief.

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