PM pitches tourism, trade in Mexico
Prime Minister John Key
New Zealand is being pitched as a tourist destination for Mexican travellers during Prime Minister John Key's first official visit, marking 40 years of diplomatic ties.
Mr Key talked up New Zealand's tourism and economy in a speech to the Mexican Council of International Affairs and the Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology today (NZT).
Explaining some background about New Zealand - including its population, size and the travel time to Australia - Mr Key avoided any mention of sheep numbers or The Hobbit.
Instead, he billed New Zealand as a key agricultural exporter and a top-ranked country for ease of carrying out business, along with a push for the country's universities as potential study destinations for Mexican students.
"We are becoming a destination favoured by adventurous, determined and bright young Latin Americans wanting a high-quality education at a hugely competitive price, relative to other English-speaking countries," Mr Key said, adding that New Zealand is "a sports-loving nation" that's also home to the All Blacks.
"Can I just add that New Zealand is a great place to visit - for the scenery, beaches, skiing or just simply as a safe and friendly place to relax," he said.
"We're becoming a popular destination for Mexican families, and couples on their honeymoon. I am also told that young Mexicans snap up working holiday visas to New Zealand within an hour of applications opening, and I am pleased they are keen to experience life on this side of the Pacific."
Mr Key also talked up New Zealand as a solid business base for Mexican businesses, with exports from New Zealand worth more than $US230 million ($NZ276m) in 2012, and imports from Mexico about $US200m.
The two countries have been discussing a free-trade agreement for some time, but it's never got off the ground.
Mexico joined the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership talks last year, and Mr Key is keen to see them sign the finalised deal in October.
Later on Wednesday, Mr Key will become the first foreign leader to meet Mexico's new President Enrique Pena Nieto.
He will also visit Colombia, Chile and Brazil during his Latin American visit.