The importance of China

The importance to New Zealand trade is highlighted by a John Key led delegation currently visiting China.

Stacey Kirk writes: Suspicion and horse-trading with an economic super-power

Departing today, Key is leading a delegation of more than 40 of New Zealand’s top business men and women to China, with a heavy agricultural focus across both dairy and meat exports.

It’s a signal to a country that values one-on-one business, New Zealand has some serious issues it wants addressed.

An upgrade to our FTA with China is by no means a done deal. This journalist and the rest of the travelling press-pack will be gauging for any signs of progress – it could be slow.

This is just part of the dance to entice China to agree on a set of issues both countries could begin negotiating on.

Those include non-tariff barriers and improvements to our deal on dairy from our end, and extension to visa periods and tweaks to the overseas investment process on theirs.

There are a number of contentious issues including:

The forestry industry are perhaps most vocal about the issue of non-tariff barriers, earlier this year threatening WTO action for what it perceives to be China “acting outside the spirit of the FTA”.

Nearly every issue we deal with in China is contentious; the South China Sea, the extradition of economic criminals, non-tariff barriers and foreign investment.

The importance of China to New Zealand trade is obvious.

This will be Key’s sixth and longest visit to China, coming after Presidents Xi’s visit here in 2014, during which Key, his wife Bronagh, along with Xi and his wife enjoyed a private dinner.

It will be a challenging trip for Key – an editorial in a Chinese state run newspaper has publicly warned key off discussing political issues like the South China Sea – but he has the international experience and rapport to achieve results.

It’s hard to imagine Andrew Little, Winston Peters or James Shaw being greeted by Chinese leadership with as much respect.

The Mandela funeral delegation…

…was never going to satisfy everyone no matter who was chosen. Limited to five it was always going to have to leave out people who someone thinks was worthy of being in the official delegation.

The others can choose to stay here or make their own way to South Africa. However finding a seat on a plane and finding accommodation will be difficult.