New Zealand’s government is pushing for closer ties with Burma, both economically and politically, with the first ever visit to the country for a New Zealand prime minister last week.
Prime Minister John Key met Burmese president Thein Sein as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who he presented with a basket of gold kiwifruit and a greenstone pendant.
Burma’s slowly opening economy and 56m-strong population make the South East Asian nation a promising potential market for New Zealand exports in coming years.
The country has already attracted significant interest from New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, which has appointed a Burmese country manager to develop the market.
“Myanmar has a population of around 56m people and dairy consumption per capita is expected to increase as people in Myanmar increasingly look for high quality nutrition that supports the health of their families,” Fonterra ASEAN managing director Mark Wilson said.
“In addition, Myanmar’s tourism sector is growing fast with increased investment and developing infrastructure across the country. This is driving demand for high quality foodservice products from hotels and restaurants.”
New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable exports to South East Asia have been developing well in recent years, and the potential opportunities in Burma, with the region’s second-largest population, are clear.
New Zealand’s government has recently changed how it refers to the country from Burma to Myanmar, a move the government said recognises the progress the country has made towards peace.