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Key announces $30m splash on China expo
2009. 17 April
(nzherald.co.nz) New Zealand will spend $30 million on building and promoting its pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, says Prime Minister John Key.
The sum is five times the amount spent at the last world expo at Aichi in Japan.
And Mr Key said yesterday that he planned to return to China next year with a business delegation to promote New Zealand and its business links.
The Chinese estimate 70 million people will visit the expo and Mr Key said if only a small number of those chose to buy New Zealand goods or visit the country, then the economic spin-offs would be enormous.
Speaking at the opening of a business centre for New Zealanders working in Shanghai, Mr Key said New Zealand had to invest heavily to increase trade into China.
The time for debating the merits and potential of doing business with China was over.
"The question is how you convert that into a long-term successful business model and that has eluded a lot of businesses in the past and it is not to be underestimated the challenges that are here, but that is why New Zealand has to invest heavily."
Government agencies were there to help and would continue to do so, Mr Key said.
Both kiwifruit export agency Zespri and state-owned energy company Solid Energy said they would spend money on developing New Zealand's exhibition to help draw the attention of the millions expected at the expo.
New Zealand's exports to China have been booming since the two countries' trade deal a year ago despite the global recession.
China has reported its worst economic growth data since 1992. Growth slowed in the first quarter of this year to 6.1 per cent, but some analysts see signs of a recovery with hope that the last quarter was the trough.
Growth was 6.8 per cent in the last quarter of last year, but the first-quarter GDP figure dropped as exports fell 17 per cent last month.
China's Government has said it is determined to achieve annual growth of 8 per cent, and to expand its domestic demand.
Mr Key said that although China's export sector was being hit hard, internal demand remained strong. New Zealand had to work hard to build on the trade deal.
"I strongly believe the potential upside is enormous for both countries.
"The free trade agreement provided us with an entree into the Chinese market and the challenge for New Zealand is to convert that into real success for our economy."
Mr Key flies out to the Boao Forum on Hainan Island at the weekend. The forum is a regional economic summit bringing political and business leaders together.
Mr Key believed his trip to China had been a tremendous success, with Chinese leaders saying relations between the two countries had never been better.
Ian Llewellyn travelled to China with the assistance of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.