Chinese leader to visit NZ

HAMISH RUTHERFORD IN BEIJING
Last updated 06:25 20/03/2014
KEY AND XI: John Key meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People.
Reuters

KEY AND XI: John Key meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to visit New Zealand later this year.

Last night Prime Minister John Key, along with a small delegation held a meeting with Xi at the Great Hall of the People, before being hosted for a small formal dinner.

During the meetings, Xi confirmed that he plans to accept an invitation for a visit shortly before or after the G20 in Brisbane in November.

"We issued an invitation for him to come to New Zealand and he's indicated he'll be coming when the G20's on," Key said.

"So he's the sort of calibre of leader we were talking about for the reason we wanted to hold the election a little earlier, so that we could actually invite world leaders like President Xi to New Zealand."

Earlier, Key told Xi that part of the reason the election was called earlier than usual was so that the Prime Minister, whoever it was, could attend the Apec Forum in Beijing in November.

"I'm obviously very hopeful it will be me, but we have to go through that process," Key said in the opening minutes of the meeting in the Fujian Hall of the Great Hall.

The meeting also saw the formal approval of a new target to raise two-way trade between New Zealand and China to $30 billion by 2020, although the release announcing the target was accidentally distributed to the media almost an hour before the meeting took place.

"I think that's eminently achievable," Key said after the dinner.

"But as President Xi said when we were having the discussion, that just means China's got to drink a lot more milk, and they're up for that."

The scale of the two countries - China's population is several hundred times larger than New Zealand - means that increasing the trade was likely to mainly consist of growing New Zealand exports to China.

"The reality is it revolves around us selling a lot more product to their people as opposed to New Zealand dramatically increasing the amount of products we buy from China," Key said.

While New Zealand has historically ran a trade deficit with China - meaning we bought more from them than we sold - in 2013 New Zealand sold close to $2 billion more to China than it imported, a gap which is expected to grow over time.

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