Ambassadors give Palmerston North thumbs up for trade opportunities

Published on 16 November 2022

The European ambassadors pose with the Mayor on the steps of Caccia Birch House.

A group of European ambassadors received a crash course in some of Palmerston North’s key sectors last week, just 3 months after the signing of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the European Union.

The eminent visitors were in town for the launch of the V4 Wildlife Exhibition. The exhibition is being held at Caccia Birch homestead until Thursday. It features stunning pictures of wildlife and landscapes from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, taken by some of the region’s top photographers.

The show made its way to Palmerston North after Mayor Grant Smith saw some of the pictures at a charity tennis match in Wellington and invited organisers to bring it here. The launch also provided a great opportunity to showcase some of Palmerston North’s most promising industries and research facilities to ambassadors from Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, France, Hungary and the EU itself, with a full day tour provided to the group of esteemed guests.

Hungarian Ambassador Dr Zsolt Hetesy says he saw many possible opportunities for local businesses and organisations to do well in Europe’s markets.

“There are ideas like your logistical hub here, ideas that are worth looking at from the side of investment and all the other opportunities. I think what the Mayor and his team did for us was really clever – it was a crash course in Palmy. It was an appetiser if you will and it went very well.

“Moana foods was very interesting with regards to food production but also food science, and we had a couple of meetings at Massey. I think this university is a gem.”

Dr Hetesy says some areas of study and research at Massey University are highly relevant in terms of both collaboration and trade within the EU and his own country.

“Massey is extremely important with regards to agriculture food and nutrition issues and we are very similar with Hungary also being an agricultural export country, so there are a lot of opportunities there. I think your logistical hub which we visited and the presentation we had from CEDA (Central Economic Development Agency)... these are all opportunities I’ll take back to my country.”

He says after many years involvement in negotiating free trade deals he considers New Zealand’s recent deal with the EU as the new gold standard for trade deals with the influential group of nations.

“On the economic side I think this is a breakthrough. I do believe that Europe is thinking about this agreement as a gold standard, meaning that you have sustainability in it, you have indigenous commerce in it and all of the new chapters that we have never tried so this is something that is extremely important for us.

“We do think that this is about more than trade. It’s also about services, it’s also about freedom of movement and research and development so frankly speaking I think this is the best agreement that the European Union has offered to anybody.”

As to the other reason for the group’s visit, Dr Hetesy says he hopes the community will take up the opportunity to see the V4 Exhibition’s beautiful pictures of the wild animals and the rugged scenery of his region.

“I hope people will enjoy the show, it’s a wonderful place for it to be exhibited. It has already been shown in Wellington and we joked that it’s kind of a risky business to bring a nature exhibition to a country of such natural wonders.

“The exhibition was put together by the 4 top nature photography organisations of the countries involved and of course it’s just to give a taste (of the region) to New Zealanders.”

With the strengthening trade ties and freer borders within the European Union, Dr Hetesy says he hopes the exhibition will encourage more Kiwis to visit Hungary and the surrounding areas.

“The New Zealand dollar is very strong at the moment, so if you did want to visit it’s a great time to go. We have exquisite places to visit and opera and theatre. If you want to bike, hike and see some of the things we have in the photos you can, and on top of the nature we have music, history, culture and art that is all there and has been for a thousand plus years.”

The V4 Wildlife Exhibition is open between 9am and 5pm at Caccia Birch House until Thursday 17 November. Entry is free. Any koha donations collected will go toward humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine.