PM going to Thailand

Prime Minister John Key will travel to Thailand on Friday for the fourth EastAsia Summit, before visiting Malaysia and Japan.

It is Thailand's third attempt to host the summit after the last two were disrupted by protests.

In April, anti-Government protesters broke into the summit venue in Pattaya, forcing many Asian leaders to be airlifted from their hotels.

Mr Key only made it as far as Bangkok airport.

This time Thai authorities are planning a massive security crackdown.

If the summit does go ahead, Mr Key will join leaders from the 10 Asean countries, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, and Australia on October 24 and 25.

On the agenda will be consideration of a study group report on a proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia, which has the potential in the long term to create the largest free trade area in the world.

In 2008 New Zealand's exports to the summit countries totalled $20.96 billion. This represents more than half of New Zealand's total exports.

After the summit, Mr Key will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for an official visit and to attend events for the signing of the New Zealand-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement.

He will be joined by Trade Minister Tim Groser and a delegation of more than 60 business leaders.

Malaysia is New Zealand's eighth most important global export destination. In the last four years New Zealand's goods exports to Malaysia have grown by more than 80 per cent - more than double the rate of export growth to the world over the same period.

On October 27 Mr Key will fly from Malaysia to Japan for an official visit. He will have an audience with the Emperor and hold talks with his Japanese counterpart, Yukio Hatoyama.

Japan remains the world's second-largest economy and is New Zealand's third-largest export market and fourth-largest trading partner overall.

Mr Key will spend time in Tokyo and Osaka to promote links with Japan, raise New Zealand's tourism profile and publicise the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

He will attend the Bledisloe Cup match in Tokyo before returning on November 2.

- NZPA

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