Growing a strong trade partnership with China is essential for Christchurch to develop a thriving post-rebuild economy, representatives at a Canton Trade Fair meeting in Christchurch said yesterday.
Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) chief executive Tom Hooper spoke on the city’s economic prospects post-quake, to delegates from the Chinese Foreign Trade Centre, city council, and Chamber of Commerce at an event to promote China’s largest trade fair.
Hooper said the city must not ignore its fundamental economic and export sectors – including IT, agriculture, and manufacturing – while focusing on rebuild and construction.
‘‘We have a $40 billion stimulus coming into the economy as a result of the rebuild and that will shape a big part of our economy for the next 50-100 years,’’ he said.
He warned, however, that ‘‘the big risk with a boom the size that Christchurch faces is that our underlying economy isn’t growing robustly, and all we become is a construction boom with nothing underneath it’’.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) investment adviser Steve Clarke agreed that the authority must ‘‘rebuild the city in a physical sense, but also to support sustainable economic recovery’’.
‘‘One of the risks that we face is that there is so much activity, it masks the underlying strengths of our economy and we don’t take advantage of the opportunities that spending that $40 billion gives the city and region in its future.’’
Increasing relationships and opportunities for export to China ‘‘gives us an opportunity to strengthen the local economy in a way that is not totally dependant on the earthquakes.’’
The CDC hosted the event to encourage New Zealand business attendance of the Canton Trade Fair and build further Chinese trade ties.
Hooper said the CDC and othee Christchurch businesses were actively looking to foster that relationship, ‘‘not just in the rebuild, but across the whole economy’’.
Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce general manager Leeann Watson said out of 2800 members, around 700 were importing and exporting internationally, and 160 had established trade relationships with China.
She said a number of Christchurch businesses attended the fair in the past and planned to attend this year.
Wang Yanhua, deputy director of the China Foreign Trade Centre, was part of the delegation from China. He said he was happy with the delegation’s progress so far promoting the development of trade ties between China and Christchurch.
The Canton Fair takes place in three phases, over April and May.