New Zealand looks to the UK and EU to diversify markets outside of China

New Zealand’s trade minister said New Zealand aims to agree free trade agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union this year in a bid to diversify its export markets amid rising tensions with China.

But Damien O’Connor insisted Wellington will continue to expand its trade relationship with Beijing despite the “turmoil” that has strained relations between its neighbor Australia and China.

“Any country engaged in trade sees the value of having diversified markets, especially in a world increasingly challenged by disruptions, weather events, geopolitical events or something else,” he told the Financial Times.

“Obviously for Australia, China is an important market as well. While we are concerned about some of the disruptions that are happening, we are moving forward and building on the strengths between our two countries.”

China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with exports representing NZ$19 billion (US$13.5 billion) in the year to the end of March, a quarter of its total exports.

Wellington managed to avoid diplomatic disagreements that succeeded Corrupt Sino-Australian relations for more than a year, prompting Beijing to impose punitive tariffs on Australian wine and barley imports.

“We’ve always been upfront about our relationship [with China]O’Connor, when asked how New Zealand avoided that fate, said.

Wellington was the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2008, and in January agreed to upgrade the agreement to expand market access.

However, Wellington has quietly intensified its efforts to diversify its trade relations to reduce dependence on China.

As part of the process, O’Connor will meet Liz Truss, Britain’s trade secretary, in London on Thursday to speed up negotiations on a free trade deal with the United Kingdom. He will later travel to Brussels to discuss an agreement with the European Union.

Truss has set her sights on New Zealand as the next target for a core trade deal after Brexit. One Department for International Trade official described the talks as “the next big game in town.”

But British officials cautioned that progress would depend on O’Connor’s meeting with Truss. “New Zealanders will have to give us more on investment, mobility and services if they want a deal. They have been slow to act on these issues so far,” a senior British government official said.

O’Connor said a deal between New Zealand and the United Kingdom would likely be similar to the one UK-Australia Trade Agreement اتفاقيةWhich was agreed in principle this week. He said tariff cuts on New Zealand’s agricultural exports including dairy products, lamb and beef would be among Wellington’s demands.

. added British farmers should not fear New Zealand imports. Most of its agricultural products were destined for Asia, the United States and other markets while the volume available for the United Kingdom and the European Union was small. He said New Zealand products, however, could play a role in meeting off-season demand.

Analysts said Wellington’s efforts to diversify its trading partners may help protect its economy in the event of a breakdown in relations with Beijing, even if there is little economic rationale to do so for now.

“Diversification is always a matter of protecting yourself from risk,” said Rob Scully, assistant professor at the University of Auckland. “But I’m not sure, in the absence of some kind of political breakdown, there is any strong reason to diversify away from China.”

New Zealand has been criticized by Australian politicians, analysts and media for what they see as its own An intimate relationship With Beijing, which has been accused of human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Wellington resisted expanding the powers of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, a network that includes Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

Last month , 60 minutes broadcast documentary titled Dollar for decency: Is China taking over New Zealand? who criticized O’Connor for saying Australia needed to “follow us and show respect” to Beijing.

“Maybe in hindsight I shouldn’t have said it that way,” O’Connor said, adding that he has maintained a positive relationship with his Australian counterpart.

He also denied that Wellington had been lenient with China. “We speak up when necessary and continue to build business opportunities where there is value to both the supplier and the customer.”

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