CommentaryThe visit of Vice President Xi Jinping gave the opportunity for a broader segment of New Zealanders to reflect on the importance of our relationship with China.
Those China hands close to the action have recognised and followed the rapid increase in trade and the elevation of China from fourth, then third and now second export partner as well as second overall trading partner.
The 2008 FTA certainly seems to have had some impact, in our export performance, as, in addition to the much publicised increases in milk powder and logs, which were primarily driven by market forces, manufacturing exports increased by 10% over a period when over all markets, our export returns decreased.
But almost more importantly the vice presidential visit emphasises the warm and positive relationship which has developed between the trading partners, which in turn has created an aura within which it has been easier to develop new trade and business partnerships.
The Chinese government has credited to New Zealand the four “firsts”, which underpinned the positive climate in which the negotiations were conducted… the first country to conclude bilateral negotiations with China, paving the way for its accession into the WTO; the first country to recognise China as a market economy; the first developed country to enter into FTA negotiations with China, and then the first to conclude and sign an FTA with China.
In his speech at the Auckland business lunch, Trade Minister Hon Tim Groser added a fifth “first”, the only country to have an FTA with both China and Hong Kong.
Xi stressed that the Chinese side has always taken a strategic and long-term approach towards its ties with New Zealand, regarding it as a good friend and partner in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Vice President put forward four-point proposals on further boosting the bilateral relationship, including more political, economic and cultural exchanges and, significantly, more coordination on major international issues. Several cooperation agreements on trade, finance and cultural exchange were signed during the visit.
The FTA seminar, “Reaping the Rewards”, which NZCTA co-hosted with NZTE and two Chinese partners, the Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products and The Chinese Bureau of Investment Promotion, simply underlined the complementarity of the relationship.
Shi Zhiyuan, General Manager of Qingdao based multi-national Haier, spoke of its international objectives and of Fisher and Paykel’s position within its strategy. That was counterbalanced neatly by NZCTA Board Member and Teknatool Managing Director, Roger Latimer, who is also manufacturing in and exporting from Qingdao.
Mme Yao Wenping, Vice President of the Chamber and NZCTA Chairman, Stuart Ferguson urged the business sector to explore and utilise the opportunities presented by the FTA. The Investment Promotion Agency’s Deputy Director General, Mme Zhang Yingzin outlined opportunities for NZ investment in China and Kefeng Chu of NZTE outlined the investment regime in New Zealand. Finally Qi Jinming of the China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation saw opportunities to supply heavy engineering products to New Zealand whilst EMA CEO Alasdair Thompson countered with some good news stories of NZ companies in China.
An audience approaching 400 including 140 members of the Vice President’s Business Delegation from all parts of China were left in little doubt of the opportunities available or of the positive attitudes of both bilateral partners.
Photo: NZCTA's Chairman Stuart Ferguson and Honorary Lifetime Executive Member, Victor Percival listen to Trade Minister Groser's speech at the Langham Luncheon for Vice President Xi Jinping, (seated to left of the Minister's chair)
Jun 29, 2010