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"New Zealand gains more from its relations with Asia than Europe"
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"New Zealand gains more from its relations with Asia than Europe"

What will a refocusing of New Zealand’s foreign policy towards emerging Asian economies mean for the country’s commitment to the Commonwealth? Fale Lesa, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Auckland, reports.

New Zealand is on the verge of adopting a new charter in relation to the direction of its foreign policy focus: that’s the feedback from a report tabled by the government recently which described the reality of the political climate that we are now facing.

The backbone of this report calls for a shift of focal point from the US and Europe to Asia, the Gulf states, South America and Africa. The transition sheds some two hundred diplomatic staffing positions and forces the closure of a handful of embassies abroad.

It comes amid evidence that New Zealand acquires a whole lot more from its strategic relationship with Asia than it does with Europe especially. Exports to China have climbed 143 percent since the signing of our Free Trade Agreement back in 2008. Similar trends exist with Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

As the face of foreign policy changes in this country, and in many others, it is critical to remain proactive in the pursuit of our common values and principles. Many of these newly-formed connections include countries with no affiliation to the Commonwealth network. Nevertheless, Commonwealth virtues ought to be shared universally, and promoted as often as possible.

This is a pragmatic solution to the crisis of relevance that currently plagues our association. I firmly believe that each member state carries a responsibility to anchor itself proudly on the mission statement of this noble network and on the facets of solidarity that solidify our various relationships.

There is no time quite like the present to actively profile the fruits of an association that extends to some of the most progressive eras in recent history. The time for internal dialogue is over. Now is the time to extend this dialogue to the world and to embrace those afar. We have reached a point in the sand whereby it is our actions that represent the ‘Character of the Commonwealth’ and not our history or our discussion. The Character of the Commonwealth is standing in the shadows and New Zealand should let it shine!

In some respects, New Zealand bids farewell to its traditional Commonwealth alliances. But in many others, it will carry this paternal bond to the shores of the unknown and to the alliances of tomorrow. Like an adolescent leaving home for the very first time, New Zealand heads off into adulthood with a battalion of badges awarded for its service and commitment to an enduring theme of common wealth and common action. Watch this space!

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About me:

“I am an international diplomat having represented the New Zealand youth sector in a host of international initiatives. The completion of my tertiary education at the University of Auckland (BA/LLB) will usher in a professional dedication to diplomacy and foreign affairs.

“My interests include community development, foreign affairs, globalisation, youth empowerment, reading (non-fiction/fiction as well as current affairs), creative/critical writing, chess, debating, history, linguistics and social interaction. My passion for writing has led me to this forum.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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