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Trade Minister To China For APEC And Trade Mission

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton leaves for a two-week trip to China on Monday.

Mr Sutton said he would attend the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation trade ministers' meeting in Shanghai on June 6 and 7.

"APEC is an important forum for New Zealand. Most of our key trading partners attend and it is a useful place to talk about issues that really affect us. This year, the hot topic will be the chances of getting a round of multilateral trade negotiations underway at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, Qatar."

After that meeting, Mr Sutton will lead a trade mission to the western parts of China, focussing on the four key commercial centres, Xi'an, Chongqing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

"We'll be targeting industries in which New Zealand is a world leader."

China is New Zealand's fifth largest trading partner, taking more than $725 million of New Zealand goods in the year ending June 2000 and exporting more than $1.6 billion of goods here during the same period.

Mr Sutton said the trade relationship with China was growing solidly, with exports up 46% for the year ending February 2001 to NZ$932.7 million, and with rapid growth in education and tourism.

"Traditionally, the principal focus of New Zealand companies has been on developing the coastal region with markets such as Shanghai and Beijing. Increasingly, New Zealand companies are identifying niche opportunities in the less developed inland provinces of China, in a wide range of sectors including food processing, agriculture, forestry, telecommunications, and energy where we have particular expertise and which relate well to conditions in this region."

He said opportunities in Xi'an were in both the high technology and agricultural sectors.

Xi'an is an important high-technology centre, as well as being a key centre in the Government's Western Development Initiative. From a New Zealand point of view, Shaanxi Province is being developed as an important agricultural and horticultural production and processing base and both New Zealand's technology and livestock are appropriate to this.

Mr Sutton said he would visit Guangzhou, a major Chinese commercial centre, to support the work of the Trade New Zealand office, which was upgraded in July 1999 to a full office with a New Zealand seconded official.

" A considerable volume of New Zealand products comes into this region for processing, domestic sale or re-export and the New Zealand Dairy Board has a major investment here."

Ends


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