The Economic Development Minister leaves today to visit the Philippines and Vietnam to commemorate the 40th anniversary of New Zealand's relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Steven Joyce said the region was New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner, and building strong relations right across the area is crucial.
Mr Joyce will meet New Zealand businesses in the Philippines and host an awards event to mark the 40-year anniversary of the special relationship.
"It's really important that we continue to develop the relationship - we've had obviously our big growth in China and so on, but South East Asia is a very important market. They're very young countries, and they're a big part of New Zealand's future."
He said in Vietnam, he would meet political leaders to discuss trade, investment and education connections.