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Conference Builds NZ’s Next Big China Opportunity

Making New Zealand a major point of connection between China and South America will take a step forward tomorrow at a trilateral conference in Auckland.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Chinese Ambassador Wu Xi will present alongside experts from Chile, Argentina, China and New Zealand about the potential for new trilateral cooperation at the Building The Southern Link Conference.

The conference will focus on identifying the value New Zealand could generate as a conduit for multi-modal trade and passenger transit between China and South American nations.

Keynote speakers are former Trade Minister Tim Groser, Ambassador Carlos Portales from the Institute of International Studies at the University of Chile, and Professor Huang Renwei, Executive Director of the Belt and Road and Global Governance Institute, Fudan University.

A panel discussion will feature Loreto Leyton, Executive Director of the Chilean Pacific Foundation, Ambassador Eduardo Sadous of the Argentine Council for International Relations, Professor Chen Zhimin, Vice-President of Fudan University and Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of the New Zealand China Council.

The Rt Hon Sir John Key and Christchurch Mayor Hon Lianne Dalziel will present to the conference via video, and Auckland Mayor Hon Phil Goff will give closing remarks.

New Zealand China Council Executive Director Stephen Jacobi says while the idea of the Southern Link has been around for some time, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides momentum and a framework for New Zealand to turn the concept into action.

“The government has a Memorandum of Arrangement with China to build a work plan for participating in the BRI, and in April the Prime Minister underscored our willingness to identify opportunities for cooperation to complete the plan as soon as possible.

“The Southern Link could achieve this by demonstrating the unique value New Zealand offers via our geographic location, expertise in customs handling and supply chain connectivity,” Mr Jacobi says.

Conference breakout sessions will focus on capturing the value of greater movements of people and goods. Alongside more air and sea freight and passenger transit being routed through New Zealand, Mr Jacobi says the Southern Link could boost our existing relationships with South American countries.

“Growing connections to South America with added Chinese volume and capacity could lead to a host of untapped market opportunities. It shows the BRI isn’t just about China or infrastructure, it’s a chance for New Zealand to secure better trade connections on a regional basis,” Mr Jacobi says.

The Building the Southern Link Conference is being co-hosted by the New Zealand China Council, Latin America New Zealand Business Council, Argentine Council for International Relations, Chilean Pacific Foundation and Shanghai’s Fudan University.

Conference sponsors are Air New Zealand, Auckland Airport, China-NZ Year of Tourism, Christchurch Airport. First Global Logistics, New Zealand Post, NZTE and PWC. The attendance of APEC Business Advisory Council Executive Director Loreto Layton was made possible by the Latin America Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence.

The full programme of the Building the Southern Link Conference can be found here.


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