• Murray McCully

Tourism Minister Murray McCully says the visit of a senior Portuguese cabinet minister will enable New Zealand to highlight its Millennium activities and our potential as a base for regional trade to an important tourism player in the European Union.

National Economy Minister Joaquim Pina Moura, who heads a super-Ministry which covers Tourism, Commerce, Energy and Industry, will arrive in Wellington tomorrow (Thursday 18 June) with senior tourism and trade officials for a two day visit.

Doctor Pina Moura will hold talks at Parliament with Mr McCully and will also call on Finance Minister Bill Birch, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon, Commerce Minister John Luxton and Energy Minister Max Bradford.

Mr McCully said while visitor numbers from Portugal were minimal, the European country shared an important feature with New Zealand in that both were small but active member countries of major economic and political blocs.

"Tourist numbers from Portugal increased 26% in the year to April 1998, although the actual number of holiday-makers coming here during that period totalled only 430," he said.

"But Portugal as a member of the first tier of countries entering the European Monetary Union, and as a member of the European Union, has much to share with New Zealand as a player of similar size in APEC.

"I welcome the priority which Portugal has now accorded to developing political and economic ties with the Asia-Pacific region," said Mr McCully.

"Doctor Pina Moura will be the second Portuguese cabinet minister to visit New Zealand this year, in the wake of the Foreign Minister Jaime Gama who came here in February."

New Zealand exports to Portugal totalled $31.03M in the 1997 calendar year, while imports were $25.27M.

Sheepmeat, fish and shellfish, dairy produce and wool are New Zealand's largest export commodities to Portugal. It is a valued and growing market for the dairy industry, as one of our few markets for salted butter besides the United Kingdom. The major import item is cork.