Little versus Key on Chinese trade

Andrew Little’s second shot at John Key in Question Time yesterday was short and not very sweet.

TradeSteel Imports

5. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that threats of trade retaliation by China if New Zealand investigates substandard Chinese steel imports are “unsubstantiated rumours”, given his Government has been discussing that threat with China since May?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes. Every time the issue of possible retaliatory action against our exports has been raised, New Zealand has sought, and received, assurances from China.

Andrew Little: Was the Government’s decision not to investigate substandard Chinese steel imports connected to trade threats from China, or is that just a coincidence?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not aware of the decision that the Government has made in regard to that.

Andrew Little: Is it just another coincidence that our kiwifruit exports are now blocked from China after Chinese threats of trade retaliations if we investigate its steel dumping?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: My understanding is that the issue holding up imports of Zespri kiwifruit into China is a technical matter. It is a technical matter related to some rot that was found on fruit that was imported some weeks earlier. My understanding is that Zespri has voluntarily decided not to export the fruit, because it is going through, now, a pre-examination process that will ensure that when it restarts the exports to China, they are rot-free.

Andrew Little: Why is it acceptable for China to ban New Zealand exports for containing a fungus that poses no health hazard and has been present on our kiwifruit exports to China for years?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is Leader of the Opposition and, on the basis of that, he has some responsibility at least to get the facts vaguely correct. The fact is that Zespri voluntarily stopped sending exports of kiwifruit to China for about a week. They have not been banned by the Chinese.

Andrew Little: How has he let the relationship with China get to the point where it is allowed to send us shoddy steel but we cannot send it top-quality kiwifruit?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is just making this stuff up. He does himself a disservice.