PM on China visit: ‘Door wide open for NZ products and services’

NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and the trade delegation at the product launch in Beijing
NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins (centre) and the trade delegation at the product launch in Beijing . . . relationship with China "in good heart". Image: Jane Patterson/RNZ News

RNZ News

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says New Zealand’s largest ever trade delegation to China has been “knocking on open doors”.

Hipkins held a media briefing yesterday on the final day of his week-long trip to China.

Hipkins has headed the trade delegation to China and has had successful meetings with top-ranking politicians, including Chinese President Xi Jingping.

He said it had been a great trip, and he had been heartened by the positive reaction business leaders in the delegation had received.

“There is a huge market here for New Zealand products and services and so I think for me one of the big insights was the door is wide open.”

Hipkins said he had had the opportunity to see just how thriving the relationship between New Zealand and China was, “particularly building on a very successful event last night which had hundreds of local and New Zealand business people able to get together”.

The relationship with China was “in good heart”, he said.

He said he had navigated the relationship with China in the same way New Zealand always had, “to be open, to be candid, to be transparent and to be consistent in our position”.

Watch the media briefing:

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in China media briefing.  Video: RNZ


Visa issues
Hipkins said the government had been well aware of difficulties with visas for a long time.

“We knew it was going to be a bit of a bumpy road when we reopened the border and had this huge backlog to work our way through — particularly in areas like international student visas for example, which can be quite time consuming to process because there’s a lot more in them.

“The timeliness around international student visa applications is looking pretty good, the timeliness around business visas is improving, the timeliness around visitor visas remains a challenging area for us because there’s a high volume of them and obviously the frequency with which they are flooding in continues to put the system under pressure.”

He said things like identity verification were causing delays, but “certainly we’re working hard to try and speed that up”.

PM Chris Hipkins in China
NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and the trade delegation . . . “A very positive vibe.” Image: Jane Patterson/RNZ News

A ‘very positive vibe’
Sealord chairperson Jamie Tuuta, the head of the business delegation, said there had been a “very positive vibe”.

“It’s been wonderful to be part of the delegation, really promoting Aotearoa New Zealand as one and I think it’s been a real success.”

He said the fact the prime minister had access to the top three politicians in China had been very important for business in China and economic relationships.

“I think it really just demonstrates the longstanding relationship that New Zealand has had with China.”

He said New Zealanders probably did not understand the level of coverage the trip has brought to the Chinese people in the media and social media, and said the large size of the delegation has been very beneficial.

Tuuta said the feedback from everyone on the trip is that it has been “a great success and the nature of the conversations that have been had are warm and constructive, are such where actually it’s positioned us well as a country and as businesses to grow trade and to work constructively with our customers and market”.

He said looking at other countries doing business in China, New Zealand businesses did punch above their weight.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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