As I sat down with New Zealand’s Ambassador to Ireland Brad Burgess before the Covid-19 lockdown, he was preparing to welcome his country’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor to launch the New Zealand business network in Ireland. The event has since been postponed because of the pandemic, but Burgess still has great hopes for the new forum intended to connect Kiwi and Irish companies.

This, he says, and the intensification of ministerial visits between the two nations both illustrate closer ties since they opened mutual embassies at the end of 2018. “It really aligns with what we’re doing here, and I think some of the priorities of Ireland’s embassy in Wellington, which is to lift the trade and investment relationship to a new level,” Burgess says.

Kiwi wine exports are no longer their only visible business link. Technology, whether digital, agricultural or financial, is the new bridge across the 19,000km separating New Zealand and Ireland. You literally cannot go any further on Earth – but the ambassador explains that this has proven to be a bonus for companies trying to beat time zones and seasons. In many ways, the Republic and New Zealand are mirror images of each other on either side of the globe, each green island nation dependent on international trade and regional alliances to sustain a population of 4.8 million.

Yet as the EU and New Zealand separately multiplied trade deals with other partners in recent decades, their mutual relationship dating back to colonial times has fallen behind. “As a result, Irish exporters are being discriminated in the market,” Burgess says.

I meet him in the New Zealand embassy, which occupies one floor of a discreet, modern office building on Dublin’s Merrion Row. The location is not ostentatious, but strategic: the building’s back windows overlook Government buildings. In just over one year, Burgess has assembled a team of six here – two diplomats including himself and four local staff, most of whom have strong Kiwi connections. The office dog, Benson, completes the roster.

The walls are decorated with Maori art including a pounamu, a dark green stone brought from New Zealand and used for a traditional blessing ceremony during the embassy’s inauguration. “It embodies a spiritual energy that is shared with all who touch it,” according to a plaque marking the event. It sits next to portraits of Jacinta Ardern, then the youngest female prime minister in the world, and Governor-General Patsy Reddy who represents Queen Elizabeth II – the head of state in New Zealand, a member of the Commonwealth.

A feather-embroidered korowai is on display in a frame, the traditional cloak similar to those both Burgess and Ireland’s first Ambassador to New Zealand Peter Ryan wore to present their credentials. This is where the interview starts, and I ask Burgess about the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries against the backdrop of the Brexit diplomatic and trade shake-up – and Ireland’s rugby victory against the All Blacks in Dublin on November 17, 2018.

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Brad Burgess (BB): Céad míle fáilte and nau mai, haere mai – you’re very welcome to the New Zealand embassy today. As you say, the embassy here on Merrion Row opened in November 2018, just shortly before another historic moment that time down at Lansdowne Road at the Aviva Stadium… The decision to open the embassy was actually announced in 2017, shortly after St Patrick’s Day, and I think recognised in many ways that we’re long overdue in taking this step, with strong community bonds and one in six Kiwis having Irish heritage. 

New Zealand Ambassador to Ireland Brad Burgess next to the pounamu stone (left) used for the embassy’s Maori blessing ceremony. Photo: Bryan Meade

I think that we’ve each made significant contributions to our national journeys over the years, from the founding of New Zealand through the Treaty of Waitangi, which was signed by an Irishman, through to New Zealand’s support for the establishment of the International Fund for Ireland during the peace process in the 1980s and 1990s, through to most recently Ireland being one of the first supporters, following the terrible attacks in Christchurch, of the Christchurch call. And then our common interests globally, whether it be disarmament, human rights, climate change, and our shared values as independent, small island nations speaking to those issues and our partnerships on economic policy through the small advanced economies initiative, or research through the Global Research Alliance. 

But I suppose it would be remiss not to mention the significant pull factors, including Brexit, which is driving a priority for New Zealand to renew and deepen our relationships in a changing European Union.

Thomas Hubert (TH): We’ll come back to the issues in a second, but maybe just the fact that you came here to start a new embassy – are you like a sort of start-up entrepreneur, forming your team and deciding how you go along? Or is this part of a wider template and roll-out of embassies that are nearly flat-packed and ready to go around the world from the New Zealand government?

BB: It’s a bit of a blend of both, but I do like the start-up entrepreneur label – I might borrow that in the future! Firstly, over the past few years, we’ve opened new embassies and consulates across a range of countries from China, Barbados, Ethiopia to Sweden just before Ireland and with Sri Lanka in the pipeline as well. So we have fairly established plans when it comes to steps like securing properties, understanding local laws, recruiting a team and managing the diplomatic protocol processes. 

But of course, then you have the strategic direction of the embassy, which is very much driven from ourselves and looking from the perspective of what the government had in mind in terms of its high-level objectives when announcing the opening of a new office at the very beginning. And then of course, we have constant discussions with Wellington and partners in Ireland about emerging opportunities, whether they be in business, public policy, or the wider community.

From wine to agri-tech and IT

TH: You mentioned Brexit there. How is that changing the way Ireland and New Zealand communicate and trade, and what’s coming down the tracks depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK?

BB: Well, it’s just one of the many reasons I think that has underpinned the case for opening an embassy here in Dublin and also for Ireland’s opening of its embassy in Wellington. But it is immediate priority for us. The immediate challenges are providing advice for New Zealand businesses on how to navigate the uncertainty, the steps we are taking as a government and how they can plan as businesses and exporters and investors, or working through the trade law implications, like quota access for some of New Zealand’s largest exporters into the EU. But we’re also looking to the future and, frankly, the opportunities for Ireland to attract more New Zealand businesses here post-Brexit. 

In the 15 months since we’ve opened, we’ve had many, many businesses through. We’ve had some launch the Irish operations here in this office and down at the New Zealand residence. And we’ve had three high-profile delegations covering agri-tech, indigenous IT exporters and investors, and later we’ll be welcoming a very senior level infrastructure New Zealand delegation as well. So it really is transforming the landscape of business here and the business opportunities for New Zealand and Ireland and vice versa. But also we’re obviously looking to deepen our dialogue with Irish partners in shaping the direction of EU policy, and talking about the implications of that from New Zealand and the opportunities to deepen already strong connections and partnership between New Zealand and the European Union on the international stage.

TH: Are there any examples? You mentioned some companies that came here from New Zealand recently, can you take us through some of those that would have maybe had this historic eye turned to the UK in the past and now are more interested in Ireland as a bridge into the EU?

BB: You have your traditional strengths here, and you can’t go into too many Irish supermarkets or off-licence premises and not find a bottle of Marlborough sauvignon blanc on the shelves or in fact Central Otago pinot or Hawke’s Bay syrah or chardonnay. Food and beverage has always been a strong part of the export profile and certainly the beverage side is quite present here in the Irish market. Some of New Zealand’s global leaders and global brands on agri-tech like Waikato Milking Systems, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Gallagher are all present in the market here and increasing their business here. 

But where I think we’ve seen the greatest uptick in interest has been around IT and the digital economy, whether that be from software developers through to e-learning online, through to fin-tech. Some of those launches, I can’t quite mention those companies just yet as they’re just not quite yet public, but that’s where we’ve seen a significant amount of interest from New Zealand, but also from the UK, coming across and establishing offices in Ireland, both to service and to take advantage of Irish opportunity, but also thinking about where their future European Union home will be in a post-Brexit world. So we’re really looking to work with New Zealand business to encourage that focus and to lift the trade and investment relationship between our two countries.

Brad Burgess: “Something that is developed and works for Irish partners by Irish agri-tech companies can almost be guaranteed to be a great product down home.” Photo: Bryan Meade

TH: If we look at travelling the other way from Ireland into New Zealand, are there companies, sectors that you’re trying to attract to your country, any success in that area? 

BB: Absolutely. I spoke a little bit about the depth of the relationship at the very beginning. Probably one of the areas which is under-done in terms of the potential is the trading economic relationship, the business connections, and that’s a priority for us in our first few years here in the embassy. That’s two ways, looking to grow the pie for both Ireland and New Zealand and the opportunity for Irish business in New Zealand. Last year we’ve seen a significant agri-tech delegation accompanying Minister Humphreys down to New Zealand Fieldays – which is the equivalent, a little bit like the Ploughing Championships down in New Zealand, a very sophisticated agri-tech operation where global companies come to profile their wares. We’ve seen Irish leaders like Dairymaster, like Keenan heavy machinery, all being down their profiling and doing business in New Zealand. 

And I think some of the real advantages that they have is that you’ve almost got mirror-image agricultural sectors on each side of the globe. So something that is developed and works for Irish partners by Irish agri-tech companies can almost be guaranteed to be a great product down home, and we’ve seen that success for Irish agri-tech companies. Likewise, that’s why I think you’ve got such a strong agricultural machinery export base from New Zealand into Ireland.

Aside from that, you’ve obviously got a wonderful opportunity from a research and development perspective to not just being constrained to testing and researching and product-testing six months a year, but actually doing it year-round by taking advantage of the counter-seasonality that Ireland and New Zealand offer. And then overlaying all of that with what is a pretty unique offering almost unique to New Zealand and Ireland in terms of the pasture-based farming systems that we are naturally blessed with, and I think this is really important in terms of promoting to an increasingly, rightfully demanding consumer expectations.

“Fexco is another good example where they’re looking to springboard out of New Zealand into the Asia Pacific and they do a lot of remissions and fund repatriation work into the Pacific.”

Increasingly, we’re seeing information technology companies, obviously a very strong, vibrant part of the Irish economy, opening up operations in New Zealand, not just to do business in New Zealand, but also to service into the Asia Pacific. Westbourne IT out of Cork because a really great example of that, looking for a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation for global clients, doing the northern hemisphere out of Cork and doing the southern hemisphere out of New Zealand. 

Fexco is another good example where they’re looking to springboard out of New Zealand into the Asia Pacific and they do a lot of remissions and fund repatriation work into the Pacific. So there’s a number of Irish companies expanding their operations there at the same time that we’re encouraging New Zealand business to look the Irish way. It’s really pleasing to see the announcement last year by Enterprise Ireland of a Pathfinder position in Auckland to build that infill.

A unique approach to climate change

One third of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mostly biogenic methane from cattle but also nitrous oxide from fertilisation. In New Zealand, that’s nearly half. The two countries are the only ones among developed nations where farming is the largest sector they need to tackle in the climate change challenge. While large industrial producers such as continental Europe, China or the US can lower their emissions by changing the fuel source of large power plants or factories, achieving the same results in Ireland or New Zealand would require action on the scale of individual farms, or even cows.

Ireland is subject to EU legislation, which has set two sets of targets: large emitters, such as power plants, are part of the emission trading system (ETS), where they can trade emission permits across Europe. The rest of the economy, including agriculture, transport, home heating and SMEs, collectively form the effort-sharing or non-ETS sector and must achieve national targets. Ireland’s non-ETS targets are a 20 per cent reduction below 2005 levels this year, and a 30 per cent cut by 2030 – which could yet be increased. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 5 to 6 per cent will be achieved this year, forcing Ireland to buy unused credits from more virtuous EU countries.

New Zealand is now implementing new legislation to meet its obligations under the 2015 global Paris Agreement on climate change, and the country’s approach includes some radical differences from EU rules applicable here. It is based on recent research into methane, which causes more intense global warming than CO₂ but disappears from the atmosphere much faster. Policymakers can use these properties either to cut methane emissions in an effort to combat warming aggressively, or to stabilise them at a level that would allow agricultural production to continue without causing additional climate change. New Zealand has opted for the latter – an option Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have now introduced in Government formation discussions with the Green Party.

TH: You mentioned the similarity of the farming systems and it brings me to another topic, which is climate change. Ireland and New Zealand are sort of unique in having this big farming sector responsible for so much of their emissions. There is new legislation coming on stream in New Zealand. What’s the approach in your country? How differently are you doing this commitment to the Paris Agreement? Anything we could learn for Ireland in what you’re doing there?

BB: The first thing I’d say is that climate change has been a very clear priority for the new government, right down from Prime Minister Ardern who has been speaking very passionately about her commitment to making a difference in this space. You’ve seen it in measures in terms of being at the heart of so many policy decisions from transport to energy, to adopting a new approach to setting annual budgets in New Zealand, to implementing our well-being budget framework, for example. And then there’s been some significant sectoral steps whether it be the banning of new oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, bringing the agricultural sector into the emissions trading system – but probably the most significant action last year was the almost unanimous passage of the zero-carbon bill. 

Brad Burgess: The separation of methane emissions in climate targets “is something that the Irish agriculture sector has been very interested in.” Photo: Bryan Meade

That really sets the framework for New Zealand to respond to climate change through to setting the targets that the New Zealand economy will be seeking to meet to reduce our carbon footprint to ensure that we can make our contribution and meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement, and do our part to make sure that global temperature increases are limited to 1.5 degrees, but also preparing and considering in detail the mitigation steps that New Zealand sectors and the New Zealand communities will need to take as part of that journey. So that was passed in November, the bill sets new emission targets. In particular, it sets emission targets for the agricultural sector where a different approach has been taken to some other approaches, which I think you’re referring to, Thomas. 

In general when you’re looking across the different gases, when you look at CO₂ and nitrous oxide, New Zealand has committed to being net carbon neutral by 2050. When it comes to biogenic methane, we’ve taken a different approach from CO₂ and nitrous oxide, which is to set specific targets for the agricultural sector to meet around these biogenic methane emissions. That’s to cut those emissions by 10 per cent by 2030, and by 2050 to cut emissions between 24 and 47 per cent. That is a separation out of those biogenic methane emissions and the treatment of CO₂ and nitrous oxide. It’s something that the Irish agriculture sector has been very interested in. 

We had our Minister for Trade and Export Growth [David Parker] visiting Ireland last July, one of six ministerial visits to happen last year, three in each direction, which speaks to the increased tempo of the political relationship since the opening of embassies. He’s also the Minister of the Environment and we spent two hours out at the Irish Farm Centre speaking a little bit about the opportunities from the New Zealand-European free trade agreement negotiations, which are currently underway, but speaking a lot about how our various agricultural sectors are rising to the climate change challenge.

“We’ve reached peak production, certainly in the dairy industry – peak cow.”

TH: This decision to treat methane (from ruminants, essentially) differently – is it just to protect New Zealand’s big dairy herd and exports? Or is there really a way of doing this while respecting the Paris Agreement?

BB: That decision is based on science. It’s founded on the work undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This reflects the different pathways identified and the IPCC’s work, the different lifetimes in the atmosphere of CO₂ versus biogenic methane, the different potency of greenhouse gases and also consequently their warming effect. It reflects that unlike CO₂, biogenic methane is a short-lived greenhouse gas. It degrades in the atmosphere over decades, much, much shorter obviously than CO₂. Once in equilibrium, it can continue to be emitted at a stable rate without increasing the concentration in the atmosphere. That’s the science behind that decision to separate out the treatment of biogenic methane from the treatment of CO₂. It also reflects academic advice, research coming out of New Zealand but also internationally. 

It sits alongside what are some pretty significant reductions targeted in the bill for agriculture: 10 per cent by 2030 and 24 to 47 per cent – so almost half – by 2050. It sits alongside what farmers are already doing in New Zealand. Over the last 20 years, farmers themselves have achieved, on average, a 1 per cent carbon efficiency saving on farm. In the past, that’s gone into increased production. We’ve reached peak production, certainly in the dairy industry – peak cow. So into the future, we can now invest that back into the environment. It reflects what we’re doing alongside Ireland in terms of the Global Research Alliance, in terms of some other research and the resources that we’re putting in to identify scientific solutions that can be brought back to the farm and help farmers achieve some of those targets. And it reflects the decision to also put agriculture into the emissions trading system.

TH: We have a trading scheme in Europe that only applies to big factories and power plants where it’s easy to monitor their emissions and let them buy and sell permits, but how can you do that on the scale of agriculture and farms?

BB: That’s a very good point and certainly back home, the emissions trading system too, when it was created over 10 years ago, was designed for large carbon emitters. But we also need to reflect the reality that there’s a large part of our emissions profile that is currently outside of that emissions trading system. So it was one of the government’s priorities to find a way to bring that into the emissions trading system, or deal with the issue in another way. And I think that’s sort of where we have landed as a government and with the sector back home after consultations throughout 2019 last year. At a high level, what the bill is proposing is that yes, by 2025 agriculture will be brought into the emissions trading system. But it also reflects some of the challenges around that. 

To enable that to happen, by 2024, farmers will be required to report on their on-farm emissions, but crucially between now and then – actually between now and 2022 – the sector, farmers and the government will get together to investigate alternate options for being able to price agricultural emissions, with the intent being to come up with an alternative approach. And the hope is certainly that that produces a productive result and there is another way that’s developed that enables agricultural emissions to be priced in New Zealand. But if that doesn’t happen, there is the backstop that come 2025, there will be a mechanism at least at that point that enables agricultural emissions to be priced.

A trade deal to “address discrimination”

On June 21, 2018, the EU officially opened trade negotiations with New Zealand. That year, the EU’s exports to New Zealand totalled €8.7 billion and Kiwi imports €5.3 billion, with two thirds of the trade made up by goods and one third by services. There were €8.8 billion worth of EU investments at work in New Zealand and €5.9 billion in Kiwi FDI in Europe.

The European Commission estimated that a comprehensive trade agreement could boost trade with New Zealand by 36 per cent. While the Kiwi market is relatively small for European businesses, the EU has been New Zealand’s third largest trading partner. Even though more than a quarter of New Zealand’s trade with the EU has been with the UK, the deal remains a major prize for Wellington after Brexit. 

Talks have moved remarkably fast by trade negotiation standards – though this interview took place before the worst of Covid-19 restrictions and this is now likely to delay progress.

As always, agriculture will be the main stumbling block in the way of an agreement, with Brussels’ defence of European geographical indications a sticking point in negotiations. While New Zealand is the world’s largest dairy exporter, it is competing with Irish products in Asian markets rather than on European soil. There has also been fears here that cheap Kiwi lamb could undercut Ireland’s meat exporters, but Burgess points out that New Zealand currently doesn’t fill its existing quota for lamb exports to the EU because Asian demand absorbs so much of its production. He says there is more to be gained from Ireland and New Zealand working together globally to promote products from grass-fed livestock, which both countries are best placed to supply, than from trying to keep each other’s markets under protection.

TH: You touched upon the trade negotiations that are underway between the EU and New Zealand. Where do we stand in this process? What are the prospects, especially for Ireland and New Zealand out of this potential trade agreement?

BB: The negotiation has been underway now since the middle of 2018. Perhaps a long time in business, but unfortunately not that long in trade negotiations’ world. We made some very good progress early on in the negotiation, which reflects, I think, so many sheer commonalities across many parts of the trade agenda – and particularly a common goal around creating a truly sustainable and inclusive trade agenda, which I think is so very important in a modern trade agreement which touches on so many aspects of life that affect so many communities.

“Over the last 10 or 20 years, we’ve actually been very busy negotiating – just not with each other.”

One important thing to recognise is that we’ve been preparing for this negotiation for quite some time. Unfortunately, New Zealand is only one of six countries that the European Union does not have currently a trade agreement or is negotiating trade preferences for, so in a way it’s out of step with the closeness of the overall relationship that the European Union and New Zealand enjoy. But it’s fantastic that we’re finally addressing that and we’re very hopeful that a high-quality comprehensive progressive agreement can be put in place quite quickly, I think. For Irish exporters and New Zealand exporters and investors and businesses looking to do business in each other’s markets, I think it will be a huge boon in terms of the promotion that it will give respective companies looking to do business in our markets. 

New Zealand Ambassador Brad Burgess with the embassy’s office dog Benson. Photo: Bryan Meade

While we haven’t been negotiating with each other for very long, over the last 10 or 20 years, we’ve actually been very busy negotiating – just not with each other. As a result, New Zealand has put in place many trade agreements throughout the Asia Pacific with China, with the Association of Southeast Asian members, across the Pacific rim, negotiating into the Pacific Alliance, negotiating with the Middle East now. As a result, Irish exporters are being discriminated in the market. We talked a little bit about agri-tech exporters, those Irish agri-tech machinery exports are facing a tariff charge that many other competitors in the New Zealand market won’t be facing at the moment. The same can be said for many pharmaceutical and medical device products, which Ireland exports to New Zealand. 

This agreement is about addressing that discrimination, about reseeding the level playing field and about ensuring that the closeness of the trade relationship is in step with the closeness of the overall relationship. I’m very hopeful of opportunities that an agreement will bring. We need to obviously conclude the negotiations first and then bring the agreement into force. But I’m very hopeful of the mutual benefit that it will bring Irish and New Zealand business.

TH: What’s the level of ambition for this trade deal? Would it be very wide, abolishing tariffs across the board, or are there still sectors that look like they will remain excluded or will have quotas or still residual tariffs?

BB: New Zealand is looking for a comprehensive, high-quality agreement and we’re looking to eliminate tariffs. Of course, we’ll be focusing on priorities which reflect our respective trade interests because at the end of the day, we’re not doing this just for political reasons. We’re doing this to make a difference for business. We do want to target those sectors, which will bring real benefit to local employees, employers and consumers in each of our markets. And so we’re certainly looking to remove tariffs across all of those sectors in which we trade in, but the agreement goes much more broadly than that. 

“We’re looking to build a truly modern agreement that works for everyone, not just those few big businesses that really understand trade agreements.”

We’re looking at what we can do for services exporters, how we can facilitate the flows of business people, what are the arrangements that we should put around investment, how should the digital economy and digital trade be reflected in this agreement? How can these trade agreements be used to support sustainable development and maintain a high level of environmental or labour standards? How can we encourage a greater inclusivity in engagement around international trade in women entrepreneurs and our indigenous communities, max their SMEs? 

So we’re looking to build a truly modern agreement that works for everyone, not just those few big businesses that really understand trade agreements and really know how to take advantage of them. Taking time to build that, it’s important we get the deal right. So that’s really the focus of negotiators at the moment. 

TH: How much time do you think? What’s the likely deadline?

BB: That sounds like a question that the European Commissioner for trade will be best placed to answer, and I’ve got full confidence that he will be bringing all that he can to bear to progress in negotiations as quickly as possible. From my perspective, as soon as possible is really what I would like to see. The European Commission President talked last year about his hope that the negotiations might be concluded in 2019. Obviously, with everything going on in Europe last year from the European Union elections through to Brexit preparations at the end of last year, that didn’t prove possible. 

But we’re really hoping that we can make quick progress over the remaining issues over the coming months and have in place an agreement as soon as we can, because it’s not just the end of the negotiation which signals the benefits coming on stream. We then need to go through a government approval and ratification process, and that takes some time. We are really looking at another year or two before this agreement really is in place and exporters can begin to use it. So as soon as we can move through the negotiation phase, work through those sensitive issues and reach a high quality outcome, the better.

At least 2,000 New Zealanders in Ireland

TH: What is the New Zealand community like in Ireland? How many people live here from your country and what do they do?

BB: It’s a pretty broad and diverse community. According to the last Irish census, there’s around 2,000 New Zealanders living in Ireland. I tend to think there’s a lot more – I just came across so many Kiwis and Kiwi stories every day of my last 15 months here. But 2,000 Kiwis living and working in Ireland from the last census, roughly split between 1,000 New Zealanders a 1,000 dual nationals, involved in everyday walk of life to people involved in the government service – I meet New Zealand passport holders in the Department of Foreign Affairs here – through to business, some leading New Zealand business people, not just leading up Kiwi businesses here, but in significant roles in Irish business. Obviously, our former treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf has just moved to Ireland to be the new Central Bank governor here, so another New Zealand business connection there, right through to sport and in the community. 

We’ve got some wonderful groups that promote New Zealand community events here and we’re looking to develop those even further. I was speaking to you Thomas, just before we started about our hope to shortly launch a New Zealand business network. There’s already a highly successful Irish business network back in New Zealand, only five years old but 1,500 members. We’re working with New Zealand business people to launch a chapter here in the coming weeks or months, which will provide a real focal point and the connection for New Zealand businesses as they’re entering the market here to access that advice, that wisdom on the ground. People have done it before – people who are in business and can connect people up. There’s a significant range of engagement and obviously, I don’t need to get into the sporting connections, which are well known.

TH: This business network, you’re talking about – is it a kind of joint effort you’re hoping for between the government you represent and the businesses themselves? Are you hoping to involve business people into contributing and being more of a driving force really than the government, nearly?

BB: Business will be the driving force, the organisers and the lead of this initiative. Certainly, we as an embassy and our partners New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in London, who spend quite a lot of time in the Irish market now – our Enterprise Ireland equivalent – we’re there to support and we’re certainly there to connect the New Zealand business network up with influencers and influential people in Ireland but also as New Zealand ministers and other VIPs visit. 

But fundamentally this will be a business-driven network aimed at providing a forum for them to exchange and discuss ideas and for them to assist and connect up New Zealand and Irish business. It’s a fantastic initiative because it really aligns with what we’re doing here, and I think some of the priorities of Ireland’s embassy in Wellington, which is to lift the trade and investment relationship to a new level. 

Previously in the Diplomatically Speaking series: “If there is no solution at OECD level, corporation tax will come back at EU level” – French Ambassador Stéphane Crouzat