NZ aims to boost China trade

HAMISH RUTHERFORD IN BEIJING
Last updated 22:29 19/03/2014

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New Zealand’s burgeoning trade with China is forecast to continue, with leaders setting a target to increase two-way trade by two thirds over the next six years.

Today Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced an “ambitious new goal” of reaching $30 billion in annual trade by 2020.

Back in 2010 Key reached an agreement with former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, aiming to double trade levels at the time to $20b by 2015. Last year two-way trade with China reached $18.2b, and  Key said yesterday it was “well on track” to reach the target.

To help facilitate the goal, New Zealand is to beef up resources at the embassy in Beijing, spending in excess of $40 million on a new building, as well as adding “dozens” of staff, Key said.

This includes additional staff from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Primary Industries. Key said there was a chance of extra funding for other departments but this was being determined as part of the Budget process.

“This relationship has never been stronger,” Key said ahead of his exclusive invitation to a private dinner with Xi at the Great Hall of the People late tonight (NZ time).

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace.”

Plans for a new Chinese embassy emerged back in 2012, at a time when MFAT had put a freeze on much capital spending. 

Officials have said the growth in the number of staff working in China in recent years has already been strong, forcing it to move out of the original embassy in the Ritan area, used since diplomatic relations were established in 1973, into temporary offices in Sanlitun.

“The current Chancery has served us well since 1973, but it is now time for it to reflect the status and importance of New Zealand’s relationship with China.”

Key spent much of the day attempting to reassure Chinese consumers by giving a string of media interviews in which he attempted to spread the message that the Fonterra botulism incident was simply a false alarm.

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- Fairfax Media

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