• Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

Argentinian President Carlos Menem will make a state visit to Wellington on April 1 and 2, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley announced today.

Dr Menem will be accompanied by a number of senior Ministers, including Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella and Justice Minister Raul Granillo Ocampo, as well as a large delegation of business leaders.

Mrs Shipley welcomed the visit as a indication of the growing political, trade and investment links between Argentina and New Zealand.

"It is particularly fitting that the President's visit coincides with the expansion of diplomatic representation between our two countries, with the formal opening of the New Zealand Embassy in Buenos Aires taking place later this year," Mrs Shipley said. Previously, diplomatic representation had been cross accredited from the New Zealand Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

Argentina, a key player in the dynamic Latin American region, is an increasingly important trade and economic partner for New Zealand. Exports to the South American nation increased to NZ$51 million last year, while New Zealand investments in Argentina are estimated at around NZ$240 million.

Since his election in 1989, Dr Menem has been largely credited with implementing market-oriented structural reforms, bringing economic and political stability to Argentina.

Dr Menem is currently also the chair of MERCOSUR, a customs union comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The four countries have a combined GDP of around US$1 trillion, with excellent growth prospects.

New Zealand interests are already well represented in Latin America, with over NZ$6 billion invested in Chile, our second largest investment destination. Investors are now increasingly turning to Argentina as another market ripe for further expansion.

During this two day visit here, the President will meet Mrs Shipley and other political leaders, and address representatives of the New Zealand business community.