China General Interest
Ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests, I’d like to thank the organising committee for inviting me here today. I am delighted to be here at the China Hi-Tech Fair, China’s largest and most important hi-tech event which has been presenting the latest scientific, technological and economic developments for the last 15 years.
My visit is the latest in a series of exchanges between our two countries. I was in China in April this year when I accompanied the Prime Minister John Key on our largest, most senior business and cultural delegation. The mission marked 40 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries and five years since the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
These events marked a journey that started from modest beginnings to what is now far and away one of New Zealand’s most important relationships. In many ways you could not get two more different countries in the world with China nearly having 300 times the population of New Zealand. China has a long proud history; New Zealand is a young country by comparison and we are from different hemispheres.
But despite these differences, through sheer commitment on both sides, we have worked over the years to make our bilateral relationship a warm and successful one on all levels.
New Zealand’s small size means it is a country whose economic well-being is dependent on exports. The FTA has ensured that our exports receive improved market access, and our manufacturers are able to take advantage of imported inputs that are no longer subject to high tariffs and import licensing. 96% of tariff lines covering our exports to China will be tariff free by 2019.
For China, New Zealand is a relatively small partner (accounting for 0.25% of China’s total trade) - the opportunities for economic growth for New Zealand lie in our businesses’ ability to produce the type of high quality goods and services the Chinese want.
I’ve been asked to talk about the role innovation plays in economic development, which is something very close to my heart, as Minister of Economic Development and also Minister of Science and Innovation within the New Zealand Government.
As I said, New Zealand is a small country of 4.3 million people and we can’t grow our economy by trading with ourselves.
It’s no surprise to people who know New Zealand that our first and second highest exports globally are dairy and tourism. New Zealand is known in China and around the world, for our dramatic landscapes and our agricultural and food production expertise.
And these sectors are performing well, thanks in part to our growing trade relationship with China. Since 2008, our exports have trebled and China is now our second largest trading partner after Australia.
In the year to June 2013, New Zealand’s exports to China were up by 26.5% to NZ$7.72 billion. Of that, dairy exports increased by 29.8% to NZ$2.81 billion; meat product exports were up 162.5% to NZ$745.2 million and fish & seafood exports were up 45.8% to NZ$391 million. Imports from China were also up, meaning our bilateral trade grew by almost 13%.
China is also New Zealand's second biggest source of tourists behind Australia with 225,000 arrivals during the past year.
However, there is much more to New Zealand’s story than primary products. I’m here today to talk about New Zealand’s technology industry, our hi-tech and medium hi-tech manufacturing sector and our ICT sector which if added together would be the country's third largest export earner behind dairy and tourism. In fact our technology industries are growing quickly, already account for 9% of our total goods and services exports – nearly half that of our dairy industry.
Far from being constrained by the country’s small size, New Zealand’s ICT and hi-tech sectors have earned themselves a reputation as being flexible, adaptable and innovative.
New Zealand’s location and demographics create a small but well-defined environment that is excellent for market testing. As a young country accustomed to being at the furthest reaches of international trade, New Zealand has developed a unique and vibrant business culture that excels in thinking of new ways of doing things. We offer a different perspective and excel in cross-disciplinary collaboration and hands-on ingenuity.
We know only the best products and services will open international doors. We have the vision to see things differently, to redefine possibilities and create solutions to tough problems.
So I’m also delighted to bring some of New Zealand’s brightest and best technology companies to this young and vibrant hi-tech city. This forum is a platform to exchange information and experiences, and to make new connections. These companies are experts in fields like energy saving, environmental protection, and health IT for which there is a huge appetite in China.
Entrepreneurship is an important driver of economic growth, productivity, innovation and employment.
Our economic future lies with those businesses that are prepared to innovate to be competitive. Clever companies that have the products and skills to think globally, beyond our shores to the opportunities awaiting such globally ambitious businesses.
Jan 27, 2014