4 Jun 2009

Cook Islands government eyeing China as trade alternative to New Zealand

6:01 pm on 4 June 2009

The Cook Islands is considering China as a trade alternative to New Zealand.

The government in Rarotonga is opening a new office, to promote trade and tourism, in the coastal city of Qingdao.

The minister of foreign affairs and tourism, Wilkie Rasmussen, says buying goods from New Zealand is expensive for the Cook Islands and it's entitled to consider alternatives.

"It's not severing any ties at all, it's exploring the options that are available out there for the Cook Islands. New Zealand gives the Cook Islands aid money in terms of project aid but in relation to the imports that Cook Islanders purchase from New Zealand the aid component does not compensate at all for what we actually buy from New Zealand, so we as a sovereign country pursue the opportunities that are available in the international market."

Wilkie Rasmussen says the government's made Leon Xu, a New Zealand businessman providing the million dollars to set up the office, an honorary consul to Qingdao.

The minister says a Cook Islands honorary consul has been in Shanghai for the past six months.