Marcos to meet New Zealand prime minister in Malacañan

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will meet President Marcos in Manila to highlight the importance of the foreign country's ties with the Philippines.

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President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. and New Zealand Ambassador Peter Francis Tavita Kell meets at the Malacañan Palace on April 17 during the latter's farewell call. (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)

Malacañang said the two leaders will meet at the Malacañan Palace on Thursday, April 18, upon the arrival of Luxon in the country for an official visit.

According to outgoing New Zealand Ambassador Peter Francis Tavita Kell, Luxon wants to visit the country to convey his support to Marcos' development agenda during his term.

“He (Luxon) has been very clear that he wants to come to the Philippines. He knows the Philippines as you’ve explained. And he knows that it’s important,” Kell said during his farewell call to the President on Wednesday.

“And he knows what you’re trying to do and he wants to support. Having--- putting it simply and so… his mission is to show the rest of his delegation [the] 25 tops business leaders. They should be doing more in this part of the world, they should be doing more in the Philippines,” he added.

Luxon's visit will highlight the two countries’ commitment to stronger ties as they move towards the 60th commemoration in 2026 of the establishment of their bilateral relations.

The New Zealand envoy said his tenure was briefly extended for the visit of Luxon to Manila, who is bringing with him New Zealand’s top business leaders.

Meanwhile, during his farewell call to the President, Kell said he is confident that he will leave his post with the Philippine-New Zealand relations stronger than ever.

“Pero may malakas akong kumpiyansang aalis ako dito ng may matibay na ugnayang ang New Zealand at Pilipinas (But I am confident that I will leave a stronger relationship between New Zealand and the Philippines),” said Kell who learned Filipino while in the country.

“Kaya’t dito, gusto ko, gusto ko sana ipahayag sa inyo na maraming salamat. Taos puso akong nagpapasalamat sa inyong suporta, sa inyong pagtutulong sa aming bansa, at para palakasin ang ugnayan ng New Zealand  at Pilipinas (So here, I want to express our gratitude. We thank you for your support, for helping our country, and for strengthening the ties between New Zealand and the Philippines)," he further stated.

Marcos, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to Kell for his initiatives in the last four years to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and New Zealand.

The Philippines-New Zealand formal diplomatic relations span 57 years since its establishment on July 6, 1966.

Last year, New Zealand ranked as the Philippines’ 28th trading partner (out of 230) with total trade amounting to US$495.37 million. It is the country’s 38th export destination and 24th import source.

The Philippines has a $361.94 million trade deficit with New Zealand.

In terms of tourism, a total of 29,272 tourist arrivals from New Zealand were recorded in 2023, up from just 17,503 in 2022, making New Zealand the 22nd source of visitors to the Philippines.

Pending the results of the 2023 NZ Census on May 29, 2024, there are an estimated 79,998 Filipinos in New Zealand (72,612 based on the 2018 NZ Census, from only 40,347 in 2013 and 16,938 in 2006).