New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is leading a delegation to rejuvenate trade with Vietnam, New Zealand's 14th-largest export market.
Ardern has traveled to the Southeast Asian nation with a trade delegation that includes a drug company and food producers.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, Ardern said she wanted to boost bilateral trade.
"Obviously, the primary purpose of the Vietnam leg is around supporting our trade delegation," Ardern said. "We have seen the number of events across the course of the day that have been focused on that. This morning's dialogue with our trade delegation and with the Vietnamese government and authorities was at the request of the prime minister of Vietnam. So, really important access there for our New Zealand businesses."
Ardern also said that she wanted to restore New Zealand's popularity for foreign students. Before the COVID-19 pandemic closed its international borders, Vietnam was the fourth biggest source of students in New Zealand.
Last weekend, the New Zealand prime minister attended the East Asia Summit in Cambodia and will head to Thailand for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — or APEC — leaders' meeting later this week. Analysts say Ardern's presence at the APEC meeting will give New Zealand an invaluable opportunity to develop connections with other leaders, including those from Chile, Mexico and Peru. Ardern is also hoping to meet China's President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
China is New Zealand's most valuable trading partner, followed by Australia and the United States.
New Zealand has 13 free trade agreements currently in force. They include the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. It is an accord between New Zealand and 10 other nations in the Asia Pacific region. There are other trade pacts with China, Australia, Thailand and Korea.
During her trip to Asia, the New Zealand prime minister has said she would also speak about the impact the war in Ukraine was having around the world and renew her criticism of the military government in Myanmar.