Huge potential in China
China has huge potential as a trading partner for New Zealand, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.
Mr Sutton urged businesses to follow up on opportunities provided by Prime Minister Helen Clark's successful visit to China.
"The Prime Minister's visit confirms the excellent relations between New Zealand and China. Both Chinese president Jiang Zemin and premier Zhu Rongji were swift to point out the long-standing links between our two countries and spoke of the warm feelings Chinese people had towards New Zealand."
Mr Sutton said he hoped to lead a trade mission to western China after the APEC trade ministers' meeting in Shanghai in June.
"China is soon to join the World Trade Organisation. This will mean tariff reductions and other advantages which will give an immediate boost to many New Zealand industries.
"Make no mistake, trade liberalisation boosts incomes and creates jobs for New Zealanders. Our future prosperity is very much dependent on our success in growing our trade with North Asian economies.
"While there are many opportunities in China's services and technology sectors, our old stand-by agriculture is an important area for export development as well."
Mr Sutton said a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on agriculture, signed between the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture last month, would lead to greater co-operation and opportunity between the two countries.
The signing of the MOU established a Joint Agriculture Commission (JAC) to facilitate closer co-operation and improved dialogue between the two countries through a range of initiatives and activities in the field of agriculture. It would provide a platform for businesses in both countries to develop new business opportunities in higher-value markets.
Mr Sutton said New Zealand's market access interests in China's agricultural sector were expanding, with China representing a huge opportunity for New Zealand businesses due to its overwhelming size and relative proximity to us.
Between 1990 and 2000, the value of New Zealand's exports to China increased by over 360 percent, from $156 million to $724 million. China was New Zealand's sixth largest export market for the year ended June 2000.
Parallel arrangements with agencies responsible for biosecurity, food assurance, sanitary and phytosanitary matters and forestry issues, are currently also being negotiated by both countries.