Xi says China and New Zealand should promote trade and investment

xi says china and new zealand should promote trade and investment

FILE PHOTO: China-Central Asia Summit joint press conference in Xian

BEIJING (Reuters) -China and New Zealand should promote trade and investment, Chinese President Xi Jinping told New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who led a trade delegation to China seeking more access for his country’s primary exports and emerging sectors like gaming.

Although China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, calls have been growing within the island country for it to reduce its reliance on Beijing as geopolitical tensions grow, and an increasing number of small firms are seeking opportunities in markets like Australia and North America.

At a meeting with Hipkins in Beijing on Tuesday, Xi said both countries should promote the “liberalisation and facilitation” of trade and investment, and provide a better business environment for each other’s enterprises to invest and operate in their countries.

Xi added that both countries should strengthen cooperation in areas including education, culture and tourism.

Describing New Zealand’s relationship with China as one of “the most significant and wide ranging”, Hipkin said the key focus of his visit was to help his country’s businesses reconnect and deepen relations with their Chinese counterparts.

Hikpin previously said China was a “valuable partner” but he is also aware of domestic calls to seek new markets.

Two weeks ago after announcing his trip to China, Hipkin told New Zealand media the government had signed seven new or upgraded free-trade agreements as “part of our really concerted effort to diversify our overall market shares”.

Unlike its neighbour Australia or its other “Five Eyes” security partners, Wellington’s interactions with Beijing have remained largely cordial. The two sides upgraded their free trade pact last year.

Noting New Zealand’s independent foreign policy, Xi said China had always treated New Zealand as a “friend and partner” and was ready to work with the country to promote the steady and sustained growth of their comprehensive strategic partnership.

“We will continue to see each other as partners instead of rivals,” Xi was quoted as saying by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

In recent years, however, New Zealand’s tone on issues ranging from human rights, the international rules-based order and potential militarisation of the Pacific has toughened, with its Western allies becoming increasingly hawkish towards China.

During his meeting with Xi, Hipkin reiterated the importance of working together to support the international rules-based order and the constructive role China can play in addressing shared global challenges such as climate change and the war in Ukraine, according to the statement from his government.

xi says china and new zealand should promote trade and investment

World Economic Forum in Tianjin

Xi told Hipkin both countries could maintain communications and work together to help Pacific Island countries thrive.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom;Editing by Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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