NZ Prime Minister John Key Pushes for Free Trade Deal with Thailand on 2-Day Business Visit

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 19, 2013 4:26 PM EST

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key signed on Tuesday five deals with Thai companies as part of his 2-day business visit to the Southeast Asian nation. He led a delegation made up of 22 Kiwi companies.

He said both New Zealand and Thai businesses should take advantage of the opportunities resulting from the recent signing of the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.

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With the deals, Mainfreight, a New Zealand company listed in the NZX, said it would open its first office in Thailand for its Air & Ocean global network. Gallagher, another NZ global company, would expand its operations in Thailand to support the growing needs of ASEAN nations for security.

Orion Health, a specialist software development centre in New Zealand, is also expanding its operations in Thailand with the development of hospital information system with its Thai partner, Bumrumgrad International.

Also expanding their business in Thailand are Beca, a multinational engineering and professional services consultancy which will provide full engineering design services for Greenspot's new soymilk production plant near Bangkok, and Taura, which will launch the Wet-B Fruit Bites, a snack product, for the Thai market.

New Zealand is Thailand's 10th largest trading partner, prompting Mr Key to push for the speeding up of the free trade agreement it inked with Bangkok seven years ago.

"It's really getting to the point where we're now bumping up against the phase out of the incentives that were in that deal, or tariffs and quotas that were in that deal ... So there's opportunities for us to potentially talk to the Thai Government about making that deal go a bit faster," TVNZ quoted Mr Key.

However, the NZ PM's visit coincided with unrest in Thailand as thousands of demonstrators march in Bangkok to protest the administration of Thai Prime Minister Yingluk Shinawatra.

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