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New Zealand China Council
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Speech: China International Import Expo Business Forum

December 3, 2018



It’s good to be with you and to join in welcoming the Deputy Director General Mr Liu Fuxue to New Zealand.

I would like to thank the Chinese Embassy and Consulate for bringing us together to reflect on our experience at the inaugural China International Import Expo.

Along with others in the room I was pleased to attend CIIE in Shanghai and I want to take this opportunity to thank the Chinese Government for their foresight in organising that great gathering of people doing business with China.

I also extend congratulations to the New Zealand Government, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and all associated with the New Zealand exhibits for responding to the invitation to participate.

New Zealand’s involvement in CIIE was one of the largest ever undertaken in events of this type.

That’s perhaps not surprising given the importance of New Zealand’s trade with China which is now our largest export market.

New Zealand’s trade with China has grown three-fold since our ground-breaking FTA entered into force in 2008.

The upgrade of the FTA, once concluded, and the potential for New Zealand to be involved in the Belt and Road Initiative provide a basis to expand business even further.

The aim of the inaugural CIIE was to demonstrate China’s openness to the world, particularly at the time when others appear to be turning inwards.

I understand NZTE is still calculating the final results, but if the enthusiasm of those attending the event is anything to go by, the event was a great success for New Zealand as well.

CIIE operates on multiple levels.

At the broadest level, it was a policy forum which attracted a large number of Heads of Government, Ministers and senior officials, as well as CEOs and thought-leaders from around the world.

I was pleased to be able to attend a Media and Think Tank Forum on the first day of the Summit, which focused on how to explain the importance of trade and investment to public stakeholders.

CIIE was also an opportunity to showcase our country, its history and culture alongside a number of others and I understand the highly creative NZ Pavilion was well visited and highly acclaimed.

Last but by no means least CIIE was a trade show – a chance for companies, some working with NZTE, others with Chinese principals, to display their goods and services, to meet with existing or potential customers, to make new contacts and to test new products in the market.

A number of NZ companies are developing healthy business in China through e-commerce and digital channels but there is no substitute for visiting the market and engaging directly with consumers.

Chinese consumers value our reputation for quality, sustainability and safety but we also face growing competition in China, which means we need to constantly review our value proposition, understanding consumers’ needs and validating our claims. 

Alongside the CIIE, there were a number of gatherings and product launches focused on New Zealand Central in Shanghai which brought together New Zealand companies and their Chinese contacts.

I was pleased to attend the launch of the Hui Maori Collective, a consortium of 11 Maori food and wine businesses.

How can we maintain the momentum in the relationship established by CIIE?

We certainly need to continue to build the relationship with China at the government to government level and it is good to see the number of Ministerial visits to China picking up the pace.

The relationship needs to be built in such a way that can thrive even amidst heightened geo-political tension and can stand despite differences of view on some issues and even occasional disappointments.

But it is at the business to business level that business need to be done.

CIIE provides an opportunity for businesses to meet each other, to build understanding and to make plans for the future.

There is considerable enthusiasm here in New Zealand to continue to build the relationship and our opportunities in China are limited only by our capacity to take them up.

I am therefore hopeful that CIIE will continue to provide an important bridge between our two countries and I look forward to hearing about plans for next year in Shanghai.

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