Opening address to the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, GermanyTransport
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa– warm greetings to all the delegates of the International Transport Forum.
Thank you Ngāti Rānana for providing such a vibrant and unique start to the first day of the Summit. The powhiri that you have just experienced is a powerful ceremony from Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, that both welcomes and brings people together.
It sets the tone for what is sure to be an interesting and thought-provoking three days.
It is a privilege to be here as the Minister representing the Presidency country, New Zealand. I would like to acknowledge France as last year’s Presidency country, and also recognise Denmark as the Presidency country for 2016.
My warm thanks to Minister Dobrindt and our wonderful German hosts, to the Mayor of Leipzig and to the people of this beautiful and historic city. A city which is celebrating 1,000 years since its first official mention. I wish you well for all the events that are taking place throughout the year, and especially for the Festival Week that begins on Sunday.
How appropriate that we are here in the city of Leipzig to discuss the theme of transport, trade and tourism: mobility for a connected world. This city has long been an important trading centre. Leipzig was the crossroads for what were two of the most important trading routes in the Roman Empire.
The Via Regia brought people and trade from the Iberian Peninsula, through modern-day France to Leipzig and then carried on west to Krakow, Kiev and Moscow. The Via Imperii ran north from Venice, through Germany and on to the Baltic Coast.
But it was here in Leipzig that these two great routes converged. Where people met to exchange goods, to exchange news, to exchange ideas. And so it is that once more we come from all corners to meet and to continue to exchange ideas.
This year’s theme of transport, trade and tourism: mobility for a connected world has a very strong resonance for New Zealand. Like many countries, New Zealand’s place in the world shapes our views.
Geographically, New Zealand is further from the economic centres of the world than any other developed country. Our relative isolation has meant that we have to be savvy and innovative.
We recognise that building stronger connections with international markets allows us to access ideas, knowledge and resources that can boost our productivity and stimulate new developments. This is why New Zealand is pursuing and encouraging air services liberalisation.
We also believe that we have much to offer to the world. New Zealand has a reputation for creating high quality, innovative products and is active in many markets. The natural wonder and beauty of New Zealand also makes it a must-see destination for holidaymakers and globetrotters. Trade and tourism account for thirty percent of our GDP.
At the heart of this exchange of goods and people is a safe, reliable, sustainable and efficient transport system. Mobility connects us and is pivotal for economic growth.
Whether you are in the heart of Europe as we are today, or in a growing economy in Asia, we face common challenges and opportunities to achieving a transport system that helps our nations thrive – whether it is climate change, changing demographic patterns, changes in societal expectations, or the impact of new technologies. In particular, the opportunities afforded by Intelligent Transport Systems could fundamentally change the way we move people and goods. The discussions, debates and collective thinking that we will undertake over the next three days will help us make the most of these opportunities and explore solutions to shared challenges.
The value of this forum in promoting meaningful policy debates is significant. Each of you in this room today has an important role to play in improving transport and economic outcomes for your own country. Collectively we are also striving towards the ambitious goal of a connected and thriving global economy.
I trust that the connections made, and conversations had over the next three days will continue beyond the Summit and form an ongoing constructive dialogue on the key issues for mobility in a globally connected world.
I hope the spirit of the welcome from Ngati Ranana carries throughout the next three days of the conference.
For more information on the International Transport Forum, visit: http://2015.internationaltransportforum.org/