New Ambassador For Brussels

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand's next Ambassador to the European Union (EU), Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark will be career diplomat Dell Higgie, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon announced today.

Mr McKinnon said the position which Ms Higgie was taking up in Brussels was a vital one for New Zealand.

"In addition to representing New Zealand in Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark -- which individually are important trading partners -- the Ambassador in Brussels is responsible for our overall relations with the European Union and specifically with its executive body, the European Commission," Mr McKinnon said.

"In terms of overall trade, investment and tourism, the European Union is second only to Australia as our largest economic partner, and it is getting bigger."

Mr McKinnon said the EU was a major, traditional customer for New Zealand's key agricultural products, and its market influenced global standards and prices.

The Minister added that New Zealand enjoyed an excellent long-standing relationship with Belgium, with its ports acting as traditional entry points for exports into Europe. Relations were also strong with Luxembourg and Denmark who, like Belgium, were members of the EU. Ms Higgie is currently serving as International Trade Law Adviser for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has extensive experience in trade policy issues and has been New Zealand's chief advocate in its WTO case on spreadable butter. Her past diplomatic assignments were in Ottawa and Washington.

Ms Higgie will take up her posting in April, replacing Derek Leask who is returning to Wellington.