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Ambassador welcomes FTA at Papawai Powhiri

At a powhiri at Papawai Marae in Greytown on Thursday, the Romanian Ambassador to New Zealand and Australia spoke about his hopes for closer cooperation between his country and New Zealand.

More than 60 people attended the powhiri for Ambassador Radu Gabriel Safta, who praised the welcome he received and also spoke briefly about his hopes for the Free Trade Agreement [FTA] with the European Union [EU] that’s expected to come into force in May.

Kaumatua Wiremu Dawson spoke to the gathering, and students from Kuranui College performed a haka and sang waiata.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government is presently going through the steps to ratify the FTA with the EU, of which Romania is a member.

“As we discussed in Wellington, we are interested in doing business with Māori companies and also increasing cultural exchange,” Safta said.

The deal represents a significant opportunity for the two countries to increase trade and cooperate in areas like research and student exchanges, he said.

“According to estimates… it is expected to increase trade by at least 30 to 40 per cent.”

Safta said that even though Romania is some way away, there are good opportunities to forge closer ties to help build a better future.

Thanking everyone at the powhiri for the welcome, he said, “Personally, I am deeply touched, and I would like to thank each of you. It was a heartfelt moment for me.”

Carterton mayor and former Minister of Defence Ron Mark helped organise the powhiri in his personal capacity as an iwi member.

Mark described how he had been helped by Romanians while on a visit to Europe, which he remained grateful for.

Minister for Trade Todd McClay announced this week the government is fast-tracking the FTA.

“The government is moving quickly to realise an additional $46 million in tariff savings in the EU market this season for Kiwi exporters,” he said.

Parliament is completing the final legislative processes to bring the FTA into force this week.

“All parties involved in the committee process agreed to complete the legislative process by the end of March. This will mean the agreement can enter into force on the first day of the second month, May 1, instead of July or August.

“The FTA will level the playing field for Kiwi businesses, increase the resilience of our economy, and contribute to the Government’s target of doubling our export value in 10 years.”

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