The High Commissioner for New Zealand, His Excellency Derek Leask, said: “It has become part of my job to lobby New Zealanders – to tell them that this China phenomenon must be kept in perspective.” While advocating trade with Asia, he warned against his country “putting all its eggs in one basket”.
New Zealand is putting great weight on the Chinese market and on Chinese investment, he said. He told liverymen at the Worshipful Company of Butchers: “We have a very high-quality free trade agreement with China. Trade is booming and China may soon become our second-biggest market after Australia.
“Without doubt, the economic, let alone the political and cultural, impact of China will, for decades to come, be central to our trade and investment decisions and central to our long-term business strategies.” There is no shortage of people in Wellington or in Auckland beating the China drum and the focus on Asia has had an impact on his work in the UK, he said.
At present, New Zealand has what he termed “a nicely balanced trade around the world” – Australia 20%, Europe 11%, North America 10%, South and South East Asia 12%, and North Asia 25%. “Let’s keep it that way and let’s give those relationships the weight they deserve. You do not throw away the foundations.”
Earlier, Mr Leask had praised the Butcher’s Company for the help always given to New Zealand High Commissioners in terms of relations with the City of London and the EU.