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Key continues push to open world's most lucrative marketplace

2009. 17 April

( Prime minister John Key, currently on tour in China, is looking to expand the Sino-New Zealand free trade agreement, hopefully assisting more kiwi companies in gaining easy and profitable access.

Mr Key told a gathering of students and officials at Peking University that the New Zealand government is looking to strengthen its co-operative relationship
and will be pushing government agencies to assist kiwi companies to make their mark in China.

Mr Key says that the government is investing heavily in its trade presence in China, through its Consulates-General in Shanghai and Guangzhou, and its new business centre in Shanghai.

The government is also planning to develop smaller business offices in Shenzhen, Qingdao and others, as well as investing heavily in the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

"The New Zealand pavilion will be the biggest New Zealand has ever built for an international Expo, befitting what will be the world’s largest Expo ever. Our National Day at the Expo will be 9 July 2010 and I hope to lead a New Zealand business delegation to Shanghai for that purpose," Mr Key told the audience.

Today China continues to be one of the world’s fastest growing economies with growth that averaged 9.5% per annum between 1979 and 2005.

The last Labour government made New Zealand the first developed country to obtain a free trade agreement with China back in 2004, and Mr Key reaffirmed his commitment to the deal.

"It has got off to a good start. In the year since its signing, trade in both directions has grown, despite the state of the global economy. According to our statistics, two-way trade between China and New Zealand grew by 19% to over $9 billion New Zealand dollars in the year to February 2009," he says.

The trade balance will always remain in China’s favour, but China is now of vital importance to New Zealand’s economy.

New Zealand aims its food and beverage output to the burgeoning Chinese middle class, and China reciprocates with electronics, machinery and clothing items.

It is now New Zealand’s third largest trading partner overall, its second biggest source of imports, and fourth biggest export market.

Mr Key says that New Zealand now enjoys one of the fastest growth rates in exports to China of any economy in the world, growing by 35% in the past year alone.

Mr Key says his government remains committed to developing relations with China further and would like to expand bilateral cooperation in agriculture, stock raising and science and technology.

He also followed up on his Wall Street Journal interview by railing against the rise of protectionism worldwide.

"Raising protectionist barriers now will slow down economic recovery in the short-term. And, in the medium-term, it will reduce the world’s capacity for economic growth. That is a recipe for more hardship, not more prosperity," he said.

"I have been very pleased to see China’s leadership on this issue."