Beef, lamb, dairy items and seafood gain popularity among Chinese consumers.
NZ firms expect more opportunities amid closer ties with China as FM’s visit injects new impetus
National flags of China and New Zealand on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 25, 2023 Photo: VCG

Businesses and experts see more potential in economic and trade ties between China and New Zealand as bilateral relations get stronger, highlighted by the ongoing visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the island nation this week.

As the two countries deepen cooperation in traditional sectors like dairy and aquatic products, industry insiders and experts said that there are burgeoning areas such as tourism, the green economy and digital economy where their complementarity can further be leveraged.

The comments came as the two countries marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership.

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Wellington on Monday.

During the meeting, Wang noted that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand, the countries had set numerous records of “firsts,” driving bilateral relations to the forefront of China’s relations with developed countries, according to the website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

China is happy to see New Zealand’s continued participation in the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation, and looks forward to working with New Zealand to explore the new growth areas of cooperation such as science and technology, green and innovation while strengthening the cooperation in traditional fields, Wang said.

The Chinese economy enjoys both a solid foundation and a broad space for growth, which will continue to inject more impetus into the world economy and bring new opportunities to New Zealand, the Chinese foreign minister said.

At the meeting, Luxon also expressed his expectations for deepening cooperation in various sectors including economic and trade issues, education, tourism, agriculture and technology.

Wang is the highest-ranking Chinese politician visiting the country since he went there in 2017.

The visit has drawn wide attention, with businesses seeing even brighter prospects for bilateral economic and trade ties, the core of the bilateral relationship, experts and industry insiders told the Global Times.

The relationship between China and New Zealand has consistently been at the forefront of China’s ties with developed Western countries, creating numerous milestones, Chen Hong, director of the New Zealand Studies Centre at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Economic and trade relations serve as the cornerstone of bilateral ties, with New Zealand products such as beef, lamb, dairy items and seafood gaining increasing popularity among Chinese consumers. Economic and trade relations have been robust and mutually beneficial, with China’s value-for-money products also appealing to New Zealand consumers.

In addition to traditional sectors, both countries have vast potential for cooperation in the fields of the green and blue economies, as well as in the realm of the digital economy, Chen Hong said.

The strong China-New Zealand relationship also serves as a model, particularly for Australia, to learn from, especially after the downturn in China-Australia relations during the previous Morrison government, said Chen Hong.

Among various bilateral exchanges, tourism has been an important factor, with greater potential for growth.

Jason Chen, head of the New Zealand-China Travel Exchange Association, who also owns a travel agency in New Zealand, told the Global Times on Monday that he has good expectations for the high-level government meetings during the visit of China’s foreign minister in terms of a possible boost for the tourism industry in the island country.

The year 2019 was the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, with outbound travel from China to New Zealand reaching 587,700 in terms of arrivals. However, due to the pandemic, the number of tourists traveling to New Zealand has significantly decreased, Jason Chen said.

City view of Auckland, New Zealand Photo: Shan Jie/GT

City view of Auckland, New Zealand Photo: Shan Jie/GT

While there has been a recovery in terms of the number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand, it has not recovered to the pre-pandemic level.

“With high-level visits, we expect to boost the development of the tourism industry in both China and New Zealand. Booming tourism will help further revive the New Zealand tourism industry and boost its economy,” Jason Chen said.

At the same time, the tourism industry insider said that as the bilateral relationship gets closer, the New Zealand government will consider introducing short-term visa-free policies for Chinese tourists, making it more convenient for more Chinese people to visit the island country for sightseeing and tourism.

In the dairy sector, business potential is strong. In a statement previously sent to the Global Times, Teh-han Chow, CEO of Fonterra’s greater China division, said that the China market is incredibly dynamic and a strong driver of international trade and investment.

China’s emphasis on openness creates opportunities for businesses to engage in mutually beneficial partnerships, expand market access, and contribute to economic growth, Chow said.

Bilateral relations have seen a positive trend, with important meetings and interactions at both the government and business levels taking place, following the visit of then New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to China in June 2023, charting a good course for bilateral relations.

Both countries marked many “firsts” in their bilateral relations. China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner. New Zealand was the first Western country to support China’s accession to the World Trade Organization and the first Western country to decide to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In March 2017, New Zealand became the first Western developed country to sign a cooperation agreement with China on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Based on mutual respect and equality, the relationship between China and New Zealand has maintained steady momentum since the establishment of diplomatic ties, yielding many fruitful outcomes, Chen Hong said.

New Zealand’s economic development has also directly benefited from closer ties with China, including a free trade agreement. China’s ongoing consumption upgrade continues to inject new impetus into the island country’s economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, Chen Hong said.

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