STATE LUNCHEON IN HONOUR OFHIS EXCELLENCY MR ALBERTO FUJIMORIPrime Minister
Beehive Banquet Hall, Wellington
Your Excellency President Fujimori,
Distinguished Members of the Peruvian delegation
I have great pleasure in welcoming you, President Fujimori, to this State Luncheon in your honour.
As the first President of Peru to make a state visit to New Zealand, your presence here symbolises the way New Zealand and Peru are drawing closer together.
New Zealand and Peru had a close relationship through the 1970s.
During this time New Zealand contributed technical expertise and aid to the Puno Project, an agricultural experiment in the high-altitude grasslands of Peru, which is a similar environment to our own Mackenzie country.
The Puno project has been a great success and New Zealanders involved built strong ties to the area.
Since then, our countries have each focused more on our own hemisphere and region. We have, however, pursued similar successful paths of economic restructuring and reform.
Now, it is time to rediscover our similar values and economic policies that can foster closer relations.
Mr President, I believe we can credit you personally with many of the reforms achieved in Peru over the last decade. I would join with others in congratulating you and the Peruvian people on the strengthened economy and increased stability your country now enjoys.
It is therefore a real pleasure today to receive you as a visitor to New Zealand.
Your record as a leader of reform and your strong background in education and in agriculture are all areas we hold in high regard.
Today, there is increasing awareness that we are neighbours across the Pacific.
And as New Zealanders look east across the Pacific we are increasingly more aware of the vibrancy of the South American region.
Eastwards tourism from New Zealand is on the increase.
South American cuisine is gaining popularity here, and we are looking at ways to increase cultural and educational links as much as possible. We look forward to seeing more Peruvian students study here and we hope this will develop both ways.
As our young people study in and travel to each other ?s countries, so too will they bring a lasting constituency of interest to the relationship.
Politically, our links of neighbourhood across the Pacific are also growing. We were delighted with the reopening of a full Embassy of Peru in Wellington two years ago. Our own representation in South America has recently been increased. We look forward to an increased focus on Peru and on our relations with your country, Mr President.
The visit to Lima this month by my Minister of Foreign Affairs Don McKinnon is a good illustration of that increased focus.
I know Mr McKinnon feels his visit was very worthwhile, and I believe his trip, and your visit to New Zealand, will mark the beginning of more regular contact between our countries at the senior political level.
In another political context, both our countries share a strong commitment to global environmental issues. Peru and New Zealand are each committed to the preservation of the Antarctic environment.
I am delighted that Peru will be hosting the 1999 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, As fellow Southern Hemisphere countries, we also share interests in relation to the conservation of marine resources in the Southern Oceans.
Mr President, we have valued the opportunity provided by your visit to make progress on matters of bilateral interest. You have brought with you a distinguished delegation, and I know my Ministers have appreciated the discussions between us as much as I have.
During those discussions you and I, Mr President, have set an agenda for future enhancement of our bilateral economic relationship through trade, market access, air links, and expanded scientific links. These are the key to a more developed and mature economic relationship which benefits both countries. I believe we have set a good framework on which to build closer links between our business communities, governments and peoples.
Peru?s entry into APEC also adds a new and important dimension to the links between us.
We now enjoy a common membership of the most important regional organisation in the Asia Pacific Basin. APEC?s work in reducing trade and investment barriers, and bringing business communities closer together will, I am sure, support closer links between our two economies in the coming years.
You are entering APEC at an interesting time. A number of APEC?s member economies are facing economic restructuring, reduced growth, and financial uncertainty. The challenge for APEC is to keep moving forward in a steady and progressive manner towards achieving its goals.
Peru?s record of successful reform - and your experience as a leader prepared to take difficult decisions when necessary- will provide a valuable contribution to APEC?s work.
I look forward very much to working closely with you as New Zealand moves to take up the Chair of APEC next year.
Finally, Mr President, I would like to say how much we have enjoyed hosting your visit.
I hear that you are visiting other parts of our country and hope you will have the opportunity to see something of the New Zealand landscape and people during your time here. Perhaps they will inspire you to explore a little further when you return to New Zealand next year for APEC 1999.