NZ Philippines Business Council Launch

07.11.13

Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. (Good evening to all of you)

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Your Excellency Virginia Benavidez, Philippine Ambassador
Directors and members of the New Zealand Philippines Business Council
Distinguished guests

It’s always a pleasure to say ‘Mabouhay’ to a new citizen at our citizenship ceremonies, or to enjoy the food, dance and music at Philippine cultural events.

Now we have a strong focus on economic wellbeing and I’m delighted to help launch the New Zealand Philippine Business Council here in Wellington

Congratulations for taking this step to promote this important trade relationship. This brings into focus the healthy state of our trade relations and provides an opportunity to enhance our economic and cultural links between our countries

It’s great that this business council is forging a presence here in the Capital, having enjoyed a revitalisation since 2011

The Council provides a forum and advocacy for the growing number of Filipino businesspeople in New Zealand, and increasingly is focused on strengthening the trade between our countries. This is a positive move for our countries, our economies, our people and it underpins a partnership for increased prosperity

Your organisation’s growth reflects the increasing presence of Filipinos in New Zealand, with immigration figures showing your country has supplied the third or fourth highest number of immigrants every year 2007 to 2012.

In Wellington, population data indicates the Philippine population ranks tenth in size at 1212 people, according to 2012 figures. Your energetic presence makes that feel an understatement.

In particular, Filipinos have been migrating to New Zealand for the last 15 years and many New Zealand employers have become aware of their work ethics and skills.

There is an increasing interest from New Zealand employers recently in hiring skilled migrant workers from the Philippines to fill the skills shortage in the local market.

The relationship between the Philippines and New Zealand is strengthening, especially due to an increase in trade flows and migration.

The Philippines is New Zealand's 23rd largest trading partner in terms of two-way trade, with total exports to Philippines worth NZ$679 million in 2012, and total trade between the two countries worth NZ$806 million.

Around 81 percent of total New Zealand exports to this market are food and beverage products, with dairy products accounting for 65 percent (NZ$440 million) of total exports to the Philippines in 2012

The Capital doesn’t have a dairy or mining industry. For Wellington there are real opportunities for trade in the ICT, digital and innovation sector. These are the industries crucial to Wellington’s position as Smart Capital, a knowledge-based economy where businesses like Xero, Green Button and Matakina Technologies thrive. Matakina have made significant improvements to breast cancer detection.

I particularly enjoy the business success of companies that are also solving real world problems, not just adding ‘more stuff’ to the planet.

According to MFAT, The ICT sector continues to be one of the most promising sectors in the Philippines, with English being the official language. So the Capital and the Philippines have an important shared strength.

Potential opportunities for New Zealand companies are in security, productivity and automation, mobile applications, payment systems, and business analytics for both the private sector and government.

The transformation of the Philippines away from corruption that the Ambassador referred to, led by President Aquino, means New Zealand’s reputation from Transparency International is important.

Wellington’s significant public sector leadership and knowledge in governance offers your central and local government leaders definite opportunities here.

Wellington and the Philippines have much to offer tourists too. Our shopping may not yet quite match Manila but our local businesses sell individual and quirky pieces, our museums and galleries are world class and out natural environment is superb.

There are also opportunities in disaster resilience. While we are all tempted to put earthquakes out of our minds, Wellington has great strengths. We have great services and products that can save lives and help continuity. We are a United Nations designated International Centre for Research in Disaster Resilience.

These are some really promising areas for us to work together on, to build our economies, to strengthen our links and to share our prosperity

I look forward to the success of the New Zealand Philippines Business Council.