China’s Li signals demand for New Zealand dairy, meat

Lucy Craymer |

Chinese Premier Li Qiang (right) is in New Zealand ahead of a four-day trip to Australia.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang (right) is in New Zealand ahead of a four-day trip to Australia.

There is a growing demand in China for high-quality dairy, beef and lamb products from New Zealand, Premier Li Qiang has said during the second day of his trip to the Pacific island nation.

Mr Li’s trip to the region, which includes a four-day stopover in Australia from Saturday, is aimed at strengthening trade and diplomatic ties with the two Pacific nations. 

China is the biggest trading partner of both nations.

Mr Li visited the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research in Auckland on Friday, a government agency tasked with promoting the farming, food and beverage industries, before meetings and a dinner with business people, academics and diplomats.

Mr Li said more bilateral business opportunities would emerge in energy, information technology, biomedicine and other emerging industries, Chinese state media reported.

He reiterated that China would work with NZ to upgrade their comprehensive strategic partnership, and stressed the need for increased co-operation in services trade and cross-border e-commerce.

His comments came as Chinese firms formally applied for an anti-dumping probe into pork imports from the European Union, escalating tensions after the bloc imposed anti-subsidy duties on Chinese-made electric vehicles.

Global food companies from dairy producers to pork exporters are on high alert for potential retaliatory tariffs from China.

NZ and China on Thursday signed bilateral agreements on trade and climate during Mr Li’s trip, the highest-level Chinese visit to NZ in seven years.

Li Qiang
Li Qiang’s meeting with NZ Opposition Leader Chris Hipkins was cancelled due to travel issues. (Ben McKay/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Li has promised Beijing would further expand market access and create a market-oriented and internationalised business environment, and encouraged entrepreneurs to seize opportunities, Chinese state media said.

Beijing sees itself as a key part of NZ Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s plan to double exports in the next 10 years.

China is already NZ’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade totalling almost $NZ38 billion ($A35.2 billion).

NZ is keen to further boost trade ties with China but has also toughened its stance in the past year, accusing Beijing of hacking its parliament and noting what it characterises as a growing Chinese threat to Pacific security.

After his meeting with Mr Li on Thursday, Mr Luxon said he had also raised concerns about issues such as Chinese interference.

Mr Li’s meeting with NZ Opposition Leader Chris Hipkins was cancelled on Friday, due to Mr Hipkins facing travel issues.