Goff: NZ - Chinese Business Roundtable offices
Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade
29 February 2008
Speech opening New Zealand Chinese Business Roundtable offices
Mr Ma Chongreng,
Consul General for China in Auckland
Mr Liu Linlin, Economic and Commercial Counsellor
Pansy Wong, MP
Joan Caulfield representing P.M. Helen Clark
Mike Lee, Chair, Auckland Regional Council
Jack Chen, Founder, Chinese Business Roundtable
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you for the invitation to participate today in the launch of the New Zealand Chinese Business Roundtable Council and in the opening of your new premises.
Can I thank you also for your invitation to me as Minister of Trade to be patron of the Council, I am enthusiastic about all business organisations which are working to promote New Zealand’s trade interests abroad.
Your organisation also has the worthy objective of bringing together New Zealand Chinese business people to build relationships, share experiences and to communicate your views and needs to local and central government.
It is a propitious time to establish an organisation focussed on trade between New Zealand and China.
Last December China became New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, with over $7 billion a year in two way trade.
China is the world’s fastest growing economy and New Zealand’s fastest growing export market. It has over 100 million affluent consumers and more than 300 million consumers with growing disposable incomes.
This year will mark a milestone in our trading relationship when we achieve our fourth first. We were the first country to negotiate an agreement with China for its entry into the WTO, the first to recognise it as a market economy, the first OECD or developed country to start negotiations with it for a free trade agreement and in early April we will be the first developed country to conclude and sign a free trade agreement with China.
On the 6-9 April, the Prime Minister and I will lead a business delegation to Beijing where the signing ceremony will take place in the Great Hall of People.
I don’t claim that agreement will be perfect or achieve all our trade ambitions but it will meet the tests set by Prime Minister Clark and Premier Wen of being comprehensive, high quality and of mutual benefit to the two countries.
Our export trade is estimated as a result of the agreement to grow by an extra $260 to $400 million a year each year for 20 years.
When tariff cuts are fully implemented, it will save New Zealand exporters over $100 million a year.
It gives us higher profile and an advantage over our trading competitors in the Chinese market. It provides more certainty for our goods and services exporters and for our investors there.
Without this agreement, New Zealand exporters would have suffered increasing competitive disadvantages compared to other countries entering into free trade agreements with China.
The free trade agreement will open doors for our traders into China and create opportunities but it will be up to New Zealand business to seize and benefit from those opportunities.
That means that our exporters will need to understand the markets in China, what its needs are and how to work effectively within it – understanding the laws, the culture, the language, the importance of guanxi / relationships.
This is where the New Zealand Chinese business community can help give New Zealand a head start.
You know where New Zealand’s competitive advantages are, how we can best succeed in marketing what we produce in the Chinese market. You know New Zealand, you know China.
I look forward to the constructive and positive role which the New Zealand Chinese Business Roundtable Council can and will play in this area.
Best wishes for the growth and strengthening of your Council.
It is my privilege to launch your organisation and declare this building officially open.