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Importance of ethnic entrepreneurs underscored

While Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) constituted the backbone of the New Zealand economy, businesses owned and managed by ethnic minorities are at the heart of development Trade Minister Tim Groser has said.

Inaugurating the Multicultural New Zealand Business Advisory Board (MNZB) of the Federation of Multicultural Councils of New Zealand, he said, “Small and Medium Ethnic Enterprises play a critical role not only in the domestic economy but also in the export sector. The Government considers their contributions as vital for economic and social progress. The Business Advisory Board comes at a time when Asia is becoming the focus of the world,” he said.

New Canning Line

He was speaking at the GMP Dairy plant in East Tamaki on August 5. He later inaugurated the Company’s second canning line, which will allow the Company to blend and can about 40,000 tonnes of milk powder every year.

Mr Groser said that China and India are two emerging economies of Asia and are of great interest to New Zealand.

New Zealand is the first developed country to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. Securing preferential access to China’s economy has the potential to deliver significant gains to our exporters,” he said.

Chinese Connection

Describing China as the fastest growing major economy with an average annual growth of 9.5%, Mr Groser said that trade with China offered huge potential for New Zealand’s manufacturers and services operators.

New Zealand and China increased the goal for two-way trade to reach $30 billion by 2020 at a meeting held between Prime Minister John Key and China’s President Xi Jinping during the former’s visit to Beijing on March 19, 2014.

Mr Key told President Xi that his Government will boost staff numbers dedicated to China, a recommendation of the Government report into the handling of the Fonterra botulism scare in August 2013.

Trading Heights

The new goal is up from the target of $20 billion by 2015 – a goal that was set after trade figures came in at $18.2 billion last year and hit record highs in January 2014.

Mr Key said enhancing New Zealand’s presence in China “more heavily” was a part of the Government’s initiatives to improve ties with that country.

New Zealand will also spend $40 million to build a new Embassy in Beijing.

The new announcements will see the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministries set up seven new positions, and employ a Public Affairs Manager and an Adviser based in the Chinese Capital later this year.

Defining objectives

MNZB Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony said that as a new entity, the Board has the challenging task of defining itself, setting targets and moving towards them and most important of all, connecting with SMEEs.

“I believe that we have determined our aims and objectives, among which is the need to encourage cultural diversity among New Zealand businesses, support the engagement of SMEEs in Local and Central Governments and foster the Board to be a strong and official advocate for ethnic enterprises,” he said.

Mr Anthony said that he was confident that there would be avenues to work with Ministries, Government departments and agencies, Members of Parliament, Mayors, Councillors, Chambers of Commerce and others to find new paths of progress of SMEEs.

“Our primary challenge is to put in place strategic plans, processes and systems as the strong foundation for engagement and growth,” he said.

Special Role

Federation of Multicultural Councils of New Zealand Executive Director Tayo Agunlejika said that MNZB would provide knowledge, information, contacts, training, support and services to help SMEEs engage and grow and to assist ethnic migrant and refugee communities with their business and entrepreneurial aspirations.

“The Advisory Board will play a special role during the initial period of development. Its members are appointed by the Executive of the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils (often referred as Multicultural New Zealand) to advise on SMEEs matters, encourage cultural diversity and provide opportunities for networking with local and central governments and the wider business community,” he said.

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