Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is scheduled to pay an official visit to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea from 21 to 25 March 2013, at the invitations of the Prime Ministers of both countries.
Accompanying the Prime Minister will be Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal, Science and Technology Minister Woravat Auapinyakul, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, and a group of leading business people.
On 22 March in New Zealand, Prime Minister Yingluck will deliver a keynote address at an investment forum, organized by the Board of Investment (BOI), and hold talks with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. Both Thai and New Zealand leaders will witness the signing of a letter of intent on science, technology, and innovation. Representing Thailand in signing the document will be Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.
On 23 March, Auckland University of Technology will confer an honorary doctorate on Prime Minister Yingluck in recognition of her prominent role in the international arena.
Trade between Thailand and New Zealand now stands at about 1.63 billion US dollars. The two countries signed the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement in April 2005. Thailand is also part of the ASEAN-Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 2010. More than 100,000 tourists from New Zealand visit Thailand each year.
Prime Minister Yingluck will visit Papua New Guinea on 24-25 March. She will be the first Prime Minister of Thailand to visit this country. During the visit, she will hold talks with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Papua New Guinea on the setting up of bilateral consultation mechanisms and a memorandum of understanding between the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
On this occasion, Thailand will present preliminary food safety and disease test kits in order to support public health development in Papua New Guinea. It will also donate books and audiovisual items for the Thai corner at University of Papua New Guinea. The objective is to make Thailand better known in Papua New Guinea, which will help promote people-to-peeople connectivity.
The Thai delegation will visit a liquefied natural gas project to explore investment opportunities in energy there. Papua New Guinea is Thailand’s largest trading partner in the South Pacific. Trade between the two countries in 2012 amounted to 359.96 million dollars. Thai investment in Papua New Guinea involves mainly food processing and energy development.