Sydney, Australia, Jun 12 (EFE).- New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said Monday that he will lead a trade delegation at the end of June to China, the country’s biggest trading partner.
“The relationship with China is one of New Zealand’s most significant, wide-ranging and complex,” Hipkins said at his regular weekly press conference in Wellington.
It will be the first trip by a New Zealand prime minister to China since the start of the pandemic in 2019.
Hipkins said that trade links with China had proved “incredibly resilient” in recent years.
New Zealand mainly exports dairy, wood and meat to China while importing electronics, machinery, clothing and furniture from it.
Sales to China account for a quarter of New Zealand’s export earnings.
“It’s also very critical that we throw our support behind emerging sectors like gaming and health and wellness,” Hipkins said.
“One of key objectives is to diversify the breadth of our trade offerings,” he added.
Monday’s announcement came after New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States signed a “Joint Declaration Against Trade-Related Economic Coercion and Non-Market Policies and Practices” in Paris over the weekend which appeared to be aimed at China.
In a statement issued over the weekend, China’s embassy in Wellington denounced that “certain countries tend to overstretch or abuse the concept of national security to impose protectionist policies under various pretexts, which violate both the WTO rules and the commitments made jointly acquired by all parties,” alluding to the US.
When asked if New Zealand had ever faced economic coercion, or threats of it from China, Hipkins replied that New Zealand had a “robust, ongoing dialogue” with the Asian country.
“We’ve always been very clear in our opposition to economic coercion. We believe in a rules-based system,” he added.
New Zealand, a nuclear-free country, has historical ties with the US and Australia.
It is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which also includes Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom and with which it shares, along with several Pacific nations, concerns about China’s growing influence in the region. EFE