Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor speaks at a press conference on the upgraded FTA between China and New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand on Jan. 26, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor on Monday expressed his confidence in trade and economic relations between New Zealand and China.
Delivering a speech at the annual China Business Summit in Auckland, O'Connor said New Zealand will stay committed to investing in trade and economic relations with China.
Despite global trade disruptions, goods exports from New Zealand to China increased by 19.8 percent in 2021, accounting for 33 percent of New Zealand's total goods exports.
New Zealand has been active in multiple global trade engagements to support businesses in overcoming economic challenges, said Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor
New Zealand has been active in multiple global trade engagements to support businesses in overcoming economic challenges, said O'Connor, highlighting the entry into force of the upgrade of its free trade agreement with China in April 2022.
"I see first-hand the vibrant and long-standing trade and economic links between New Zealand and China. The upgrade will modernize our existing 2008 agreement, ensuring that it is fit for purpose in today's trading environment," said O'Connor.
O'Connor also said "We welcome China's interest" in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as well as in the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).
O'Connor said he is proud to witness New Zealand enterprises exploring diverse business models and trade platforms in China and contributing to bilateral trade exchanges.
ALSO READ: Ardern: NZ has been firm in its commitment to one-China policy
He mentioned the China International Import Expo (CIIE), saying that "New Zealand businesses are supported by the New Zealand government, which have been at every Expo since it first started in 2018.
"The CIIE has been a key platform for showcasing a broad range of New Zealand offerings into the China market. I am pleased that a number of New Zealand companies will be participating at this year's Expo," said O'Connor.
As the New Zealand border fully reopened on Sunday, O'Connor said he is looking forward to welcoming Chinese international students and tourists back.
"We will continue to invest in our trade and economic relationship with China, in the hope and expectation that it is one which continues to bring benefit to the people of both countries for a long time to come," said O'Connor.
Meanwhile, Chinese ambassador to New Zealand Wang Xiaolong on Monday called for joint efforts by China and New Zealand to focus on commitment, consolidation and growth in developing bilateral relations.
ALSO READ: FTA upgrade to boost China, NZ trade ties
Delivering his keynote speech at the annual China Business Summit, Wang reviewed the development of bilateral ties, and suggested that both sides focus joint efforts on the three keywords of commitment, consolidation and growth in their relations.
"We shall not waver in our commitment to the relationship no matter how the international situation evolves," he said, noting that the success of the China-New Zealand economic and trade relations has been blessed by the strategic guidance of the leaders of both countries and the broad-based support of the two peoples.
China and New Zealand signed a free trade agreement in 2008, and its upgraded version came into force in April this year.
"Since 2008, China-New Zealand trade in goods has maintained an average annual growth rate of 17 percent, much higher than the 3 percent annual growth rate of New Zealand's total export of goods during the same period. In that process, China has become New Zealand's biggest trading partner and the biggest source of surplus," Wang said.
The two sides could strengthen the alignment of priorities and aim to break new grounds in cooperation, including climate change, sustainable agriculture, public health and pandemic preparedness and response, bio-medicines, infrastructure development, and people-to-people exchanges, Wang said.
READ MORE: Report: New Zealand, Australia show divided stances toward China
This year, the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations, the ambassador said. Over the past 50 years, China-New Zealand cooperation has created many "firsts," taking the lead in the development of relations between China and Western developed countries, he noted.
Wang said that these rich assets have laid a solid foundation for the further development of bilateral relations. Wang also stressed in his speech China's commitment to regional and global peace and stability.