New Zealand’s Minister of Trade stated that New Zealand’s goal is to reach a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom and the European Union this year to diversify its export markets amid increasing tensions with China.
But Damian O’Connor insisted that despite the “conflict” between neighboring Australia and China, Wellington will continue to expand trade relations with Beijing.
“Any country engaged in business activities sees the value of market diversification, especially in a world that is increasingly challenged by destruction, climate events, geopolitical events or other factors,” he told the Financial Times.
“Obviously, China is also an important market for Australia. Although we are concerned about some unrest, we are only strengthening the areas of strength between the two countries.”
China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner. In the year ending March, China’s exports were 19 billion New Zealand dollars (13.5 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for a quarter of its total exports.
Wellington managed to avoid a diplomatic dispute China-Australia relations broke For more than a year, it has prompted Beijing to impose punitive tariffs on Australian wine and barley imports.
“As far as our relationship is concerned, we have been very frank [with China], It’s very valuable,” O’Connor said when asked how New Zealand avoided this fate.
Wellington was the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2008, and in January agreed to upgrade the agreement to expand market access.
Nevertheless, Wellington has quietly increased the diversification of trade relations in order to reduce its dependence on China.
As part of this process, O’Connor will meet with British Trade Secretary Liz Truss in London on Thursday to speed up the process of negotiations on a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. He will go to Brussels later to discuss the EU agreement.
Truth sees New Zealand as the next target of a substantive trade agreement after Brexit. An official from the Ministry of International Trade will describe it as “the next big game in town”.
But British officials warned that progress will depend on O’Connor’s meeting with Truss. “If New Zealanders want to reach an agreement, they will have to give us more in terms of investment, liquidity and services. So far, they have made slow progress on these issues,” a senior Whitehall official said.
O’Connor said the New Zealand-UK deal may be similar to Anglo-Australia Trade Agreement, Agreed in principle this week. He said that one of Wellington’s requirements is to reduce tariffs on New Zealand’s agricultural exports, including dairy products, lamb and beef.
He added British farmers should not be afraid Imported from New Zealand. Most of its agricultural products are sold to Asia, the United States and other markets, while supplies from the United Kingdom and the European Union are small. However, he said that New Zealand’s agricultural products could play a role in meeting demand in the off-season.
Analysts said that if relations with Beijing break down, Wellington’s efforts to diversify its trading partners may help protect its economy, even if there is currently no economic reason to do so.
“Diversity is always a matter of protecting oneself from risk,” said Rob Scollay, associate professor at the University of Auckland. “But I’m not sure, if there is no political collapse of some kind, there are good reasons to stay away from China and diversify.”
New Zealand has been criticized by Australian politicians, analysts and the media because they believe that New Zealand is Warm relationship Beijing has been accused of trampling on human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Wellington has consistently refused to expand the scope of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, which includes Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
last month, 60 minutes Broadcast one recording Titled The dollar and decency: is China taking over New Zealand? Criticize O’Connor for saying that Australia needs to “follow us and respect” Beijing.
“In hindsight, I shouldn’t have said that,” O’Connor said, adding that he maintained a positive relationship with his Australian counterparts.
He also denied that Wellington had a weak attitude towards China. “We speak out when necessary, and we will continue to create trading opportunities that are valuable to suppliers and customers.”
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