Welcome to Delegation from Chinese Ministry of Internal TradeAssociate Minister of International Trade
Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand
Vice Minister Yang and members of your delegation
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you formally to New Zealand.
This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the People's Republic of China. During the past quarter century, the growth of trade has been a major element in our bilateral relationship. In 1972, two way trade between New Zealand and China was valued at NZ$7 million, 0.27% of our total trade. Last year our bilateral trade exceeded NZ$1.29 billion, accounting for more than 6% of New Zealand's total trade. China was ranked 8th amongst New Zealand's trading partners in 1996.
The growth in the volume of trade has been accompanied by a great diversification of the commodities traded by both sides. New Zealand's exports are still dominated by primary products but the mix is changing and the dominance of one or two commodities is reducing. As China's economy has internationalised, our imports from China have reflected the widening range of your production of industrial and consumer goods.
In recent year, investment flows between our two countries have become significant. Chinese companies are significant investors in the New Zealand forestry sector. New Zealand companies have begun to invest in several sectors of the Chinese economy.
We have also developed machinery for exchanging views and information on trade and economic issues. There is a Joint Trade and Economic Committee, which meets annually. There have been numerous trade and investment missions in both directions. Our respective Embassies and Consulates have active Commercial Sections to facilitate trade. Our Ministers responsible for trade meet often; sometimes bilaterally, sometimes in regional meetings, such as those under APEC auspices.
There has been a lot of contact over China's accession to the World Trade Organisation. New Zealand was among the earliest supporters of China's membership, and was the first to initiate bilateral negotiations. We have also offered advice and assistance to develop China's capacity to operate effectively first in the GATT and now in the WTO.
And we have hosted many Chinese delegations on visits like your own, seeking a better understanding of New Zealand's laws, systems and procedures and looking for lessons from our experience that might be relevant to China as it develops and modernises.
No doubt some of our practices, and the ideas that underlie them, will be very different from what you are used to. I hope that the people you have met today, and especially the officials of my Ministry who have briefed you on its role, have given you information and concepts that you will find valuable for the work of the Ministry of Internal Trade.
And I'm sure that New Zealand officials and business people have benefited from the briefings that members of your delegation have given on the Chinese retail and distribution sector. Information of this kind is very useful to us as we are among the issues which New Zealand is still discussing with China as part of the WTO accession process.
Vice Minister Yang, you are very welcome. I hope you enjoy your brief stay in New Zealand.