NEW ZEALAND is not one of this country’s major trade partners, nor is it a significant aid donor to this country or other Caricom states, yet cooperation between the two and other small island states have a global impact on issues such as combating the effects of climate change.
The New Zealand High Commission hosted a reception at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on Thursday, where recently-accredited high commissioner to TT Anton Ojala, addressing a gathering of diplomats and government officials, said cooperating on such issues, such as addressing climate change, has shown to be more impactful to both countries than existing trade arrangements.
“New Zealand will never be TT’s most important diplomatic partner,” Ojala said.
“Even with the benefits of technology, we are still a really long way apart geographically and we are both relatively small markets.”
TT does, however, enjoy a number of New Zealand products, especially its Anchor brand dairy products, as well as lamb, beef and wine.
“But on a global scale, the Caribbean is not a large market for New Zealand goods,” he added.
The high commission is based in Barbados, where Ojala also manages engagement of other Caricom member states.
Diplomatic relations between New Zealand and TT go back many years, Ojala said, but New Zealand only opened its first embassy in the region in 2014 during the country’s campaign for a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council.
“I’m sure that New Zealand is not the first country to ramp up engagement in the context of an international election campaign. What I think is more significant, however, is that five years later we are still here.
“Whatever the original reason to open an embassy, once we increased our engagement with the region, we came to realise the value we got from that engagement. Issues such as the impact of the changing climate, the health of our oceans, resilience and the vulnerability of small island states are key issues for New Zealand as they are here.”