New Zealand PM Luxon to lead business delegation to Singapore, Thailand and Philippines

SINGAPORE — New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will be in Southeast Asia on a week-long official visit from 14 to 20 Apr, starting with Singapore. He is accompanied by a business delegation as his government seeks to strengthen the country’s international engagement, particularly economic ties in the region.

Prime Minister Luxon is joined on his Southeast Asia trip by Simon Watts, the Minister of Climate Change and Revenue, and Paulo Garcia, New Zealand’s first Filipino descent Member of Parliament.

“Singapore is one of our most important partners in South East Asia, and one of our largest sources of foreign investment. I am delighted to accept Prime Minister Lee’s invitation and look forward to expanding and diversifying our relationship diplomatically and economically,” said PM Luxon in a statement released by the New Zealand Prime Minister’s office.

Photo credit: Ministry of Communications and Information (Lim Sin Thai)

Singapore and New Zealand strengthened their bilateral cooperation in May 2019 with the establishment of an Enhanced Partnership, spearheaded by Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong and former New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern. This bilateral economic cooperation focuses on four key areas: trade and economics, security and defense, science and technology innovation, and people-to-people links.

Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, Singapore and New Zealand in 2022 strategically expanded the Enhanced Partnership to encompass a dedicated climate change pillar.

This new focus area prioritizes collaboration on critical initiatives like energy transition technologies, carbon market development, and sustainable solutions for transport and waste management.

Former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the last New Zealand Prime Minister to visit Singapore in 2019 and 2020. During her second visit, a new orchid hybrid – the Dendrobium Jacinda Ardern, was named in her honour during a ceremonial welcome by then-President Halimah Yacob (pic above) at the Istana.

Chris Hipkins assumed the Labour Party leadership and became the new New Zealand Prime Minister when Ardern officially stepped down from both posts on Jan 25 2023. But Hipkins’ stay as the country’s Prime Minister was short-lived as the Labour Party suffered losses in the following general election on Oct 14 2023.

The National Party was able to form a three-party coalition government with the ACT Party and the New Zealand First Party, and Luxon was sworn in as New Zealand’s next Prime Minister on Nov 27 2023.

Following his visit to Singapore, PM Luxon and the delegation will travel to Thailand. This marks the first dedicated visit by a New Zealand Prime Minister to the “Land of Smiles” since 2013.

PM Luxon and Thailand PM Srettha Thavisin (pic below) have previously met at the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia special in March earlier this year. 

Photo: Facebook screengrab / christopherluxon

PM Luxon will conclude his tour of Southeast Asia with a trip to the Philippines, a country with significance for New Zealand as a sizeable Filipino diaspora live there – over 100,000 strong. Sir John Key was the last New Zealand Prime Minister to make an official visit to the Philippines, having attended the APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting in Manila in Nov 2015.

“Southeast Asia is a region that is more crucial than ever to our prosperity and our security. I look forward to meeting my counterparts and seeing firsthand what more we can do to deepen our relationships. I’m also pleased to be leading New Zealand businesses into the region. Building new connections and renewing relationships with partners and customers in these important markets is a priority,” mentioned PM Luxon.

The New Zealand Prime Minister also stressed the need to foster global relationships to benefit the New Zealand economy and he intends to pursue these relationships in Southeast Asia and around the world.

Prime Minister Luxon emphasised the importance of fostering global relationships, stating they are ‘critical to benefitting the New Zealand economy,’ as he plans to pursue these partnerships in Southeast Asia and beyond.

“This government is determined to deliver on our plan to rebuild the economy so Kiwis can get ahead again and strengthening our trade and business connections with the world is an important part of that,” explained PM Luxon.

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