Key on Chinese trade allegations

John Key has played down allegations that China is threatening retaliation against New Zealand over an investigation into the quality of steel imported from China – see China allegedly threatens NZ on trade.

Stuff: John Key downplays retaliation suggestions over potential China steel import sanctions

Prime Minister John Key has downplayed fears of a trade war from China if sanctions are slapped on its steel, saying he has received “no indication” the world superpower is upset with New Zealand.

Highly-placed sources have confirmed China is applying pressure in an attempt to sway regulators at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) away from imposing anti-dumping or countervailing duties – which are imposed when goods are subsidised – on cheap imported Chinese steel.

Speaking shortly after his arrival in Indonesia for a three-day trade trip, Key sought to pour cold water on the idea of any Chinese retaliation.

While he could not confirm whether MBIE had received a complaint about steel dumping, due to the confidentiality of the complaints regime, the Government had received “no indications” of Chinese concerns about possible anti-dumping duties, or potential retribution.

“Even if there was a complaint, and even if it was investigated, whether a country like China would take retaliatory action against New Zealand, I don’t believe that’s the case that they would.”

“There’ll be lots and lots of ways of them looking to resolve issues if there were any, but it wouldn’t be through the sort of things that we’ve seen reported.”

Key said there was no “substantiated source” confirming that China would take action against New Zealand exports, only speculation.

“People can have their own version or view … of what they think might happen, but our exports are flowing across the border into China.

“I regularly see the Chinese leadership, the Chinese ambassador has my phone number if he wants to pick it up and make a phone call – none of those things have happened.”

However it appears that the allegations have been taken seriously

Kiwi trade officials have been asked to “seek assurances” from the Chinese embassy about the country’s stance on competition issues, as local exporters worry about a backlash.

McClay had asked officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to speak to the Chinese embassy on Monday morning and “seek assurances” about the country’s position on competition issues.

McClay said he had no concerns about imported Chinese steel coming into New Zealand.

“We’re a trading nation, we sell a lot of things to China and other parts of the world, and we import a lot of things from them as well, so in as far as our trade relationships are concerned, with China it’s very strong.”

Perhaps “highly-placed sources” have tried to fight back against threats by leaking to media.

Regardless of whether the allegations of threats are true or not it is likely that China won’t be happy seeing this played out in public.


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  18th July 2016

    Irrisponsible idiots in the media doing the Dirty Politics with ETu union organiser now all over the media calling for tariffs to protect his workers which is perfectly fair but having the media try to kick off a trade war is bloody stupid.
    This story has now been denied by pretty much everyone, the only exception is McLay saying he will have officials make a call which is code for shutting up idiot reporters given McLay has just spent a week in China at a trade meeting.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  18th July 2016

      The Chinese government will probably laugh their heads off when they hear about it.

  2. Who are the high powered commentators allegedly behind this news report? NOT Charles Finny who denies setting the dogs running in his NBR article. Irresponsible media should be made to pay for what this may cost our country. Time for a single line clarification from the Chinese Ambassador to avert possible annti-China reactions by the ill-informed.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  18th July 2016

      The ill-informed like being ill-informed and nothing will change their ill-informed minds. They hear what they want to hear.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  18th July 2016

        Look at the late and unlamented Kiwi Guy.

        • Why does anyone expect the contemporary media to be responsible? It’s like asking a privatised ‘natural monopoly’ corporation to “think about the poor people”. It’s a neoliberal oxymoron.

          Does the Chinese Ambassador do one liners?

  3. Blazer

     /  18th July 2016

    How do you feel about Murray McCully being the ‘face’ of NZ as foreign minister?

  4. I note that the Chinese Ambassador has given an assurance that no retaliatory measures will be taken in the even NZ pursues a WTO case relating to steel dumping. Scrub one more MSM induced hysteria in a teacup. No doubt they are back questioning their keyboards for the next dirty trick, err news item!

  5. @ bjm1 – “…questioning their keyboards for the next dirty trick, err news item!”

    Many a truth is spoken in jest. However, Why does anyone expect the contemporary media to be responsible? It’s like asking a privatised ‘natural monopoly’ corporation to “think about the poor people”. It’s a neoliberal oxymoron.

    Your analysis seems both confident of and rather dependent on the trustworthiness of nations? If we don’t trust journalists, why trust politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats?

    “Asked how much the U.S. could trust China, 68% of Americans answered not too much or not at all compared with 26% who say China can be trusted a great deal or a fair amount.

    As for the Chinese, their views about the U.S. have shifted substantially since 2010. The number of Chinese who regard the U.S. favorably has fallen 15 percentage points in the last two years, from 58% to 43%.”

    History shows, along with “many a truth”, that many a deal is done behind the scenes, covertly, in a spirit of deception rather than openness and honesty.

    “That one can smile and smile, and be a villian” – Hamlet.

  6. I thought that was Machiavellian (sp?). But point well made. My experience in such things in time past, is to rely on the official line but keep an open mind – which I think you mean as well!


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