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Speech to the opening of the NZ animal husbandry seminar

Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries

1 July 2013

Speech to the opening of the New Zealand animal husbandry seminar, Beijing

Thank you for allowing me to make some opening comments to this seminar.

This is my first visit to China as Minister for Primary Industries, but my second visit as a Minister. I visited here in April 2012 as the Minister of Immigration and Associate Minister for Primary Industries.

I have now been in China since Saturday where I had a very positive and friendly meeting with the Chinese Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu. It was good to meet Minister Han again, following his trip to New Zealand earlier this year. We again reaffirmed the strong relationship between New Zealand and China.

New Zealand and China signed a free trade agreement in 2008. When this agreement was signed, both nations hoped this agreement would bring increased trade.

I believe that we have surpassed the expectations of even the most positive analysts.

But not only have we significantly increased two way trade, China is now New Zealand's largest trading partner - even surpassing Australia. The relationship between the two countries has also grown stronger.

The Prime Minister's trade delegation in April showed that, at the highest level, New Zealand is committed to furthering our relationship.

China has shown itself to be a land of opportunity in terms of agricultural production.

The statistics are amazing, and almost speak for themselves.

With one fifth of the world’s population, China has become a dairy consuming country.

Ten years ago the Chinese population consumed an average 8 kilograms of dairy product per person per year.

Today the figure is closer to 30 kilograms per person per year.

I understand that by 2020, 60 billion litres of milk will be needed to meet local demand.

The market potential is astonishing, and New Zealand wants to be involved. I believe it is in both of our interests if we work together to help China meet this goal.

There is no way New Zealand can supply that 60 billion litres alone.

Just by way of context, Fonterra, New Zealand's largest dairy company has a goal of increasing production on their farms in China to 1 billion litres by 2020. This will be only 2% of what is required to feed the Chinese domestic population.

New Zealand is a nation of 4.5 million people that feeds 40 million and exports to around 200 countries. Over the last century we have made our way in the world by selling what the rest of the world wants and needs - high quality primary produce.

This is on the back of our reputation as a trusted trading partner with integrity. We are proud of our reputation, and committed to upholding it.

This is why we have developed world leading food safety, biosecurity, and animal welfare systems.

We are always working to improve the productivity of our pastoral land, but at the same time, we acknowledge that we do not have a continuous supply of land to continue growing our food production base.

So we are looking to international partners to work closely with. New Zealand has a genuine interest in working closely with China to develop your agricultural industry, and the systems such as food safety that support these industries. Working together we can have a win-win situation, good for New Zealand and good for China.

In April this year Minister Han and I signed a Strategic Plan on Promoting Agricultural Cooperation that underpins our close working relationship, and that's why I am here now with this delegation. We want to build on this solid foundation of cooperation between our two countries.

I have brought with me to China a high quality delegation made up of a range of agricultural businesses and research institutes. The expertise and experience of the people with me today is amazing.

I encourage you all to engage as much as possible here today. People to people relationships are at the heart of any partnership, and something both New Zealand and China need to continually work at.

In closing, I just want to against acknowledge the importance to New Zealand of the relationship with China. While this relationship has grown strongly over the last few years it is important to note that China has a strong place in New Zealand's history.

From mining for gold nearly 150 years ago to working in market gardens in my home town today, China has always had a strong place and a strong reputation in New Zealand's primary industries.

This is acknowledged in my hometown of Levin, where in the Main Street there is a bronze statue of a market gardener holding a hoe. China is firmly a part of my local community and New Zealand as a whole.

Thank you once again.

Let's get down to business.


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