28 Mar 2017

Belt & Road initiative could be huge opportunity for NZ

From Morning Report, 7:16 am on 28 March 2017

More Chinese investment in New Zealand and booming tourism numbers were a key part of talks yesterday between the Prime Minister and China's Premier, Li Keqiang.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The pair met in Wellington, where they agreed to start work on upgrading the New Zealand-China free trade deal.

Bill English also signed up to China's  'belt and road' initiative - a global investment programme aimed at infrastructure projects.

David Mahon, a China investment specialist and the chairman at Mahon China, says the move is significant and shows China recognises New Zealand's historical relationship and improves our chances of upgrading our Free Trade Agreement.

The New Zealand China Council says reviving the ancient Silk Road trade route and creating a new maritime 'Silk Road' could be a huge opportunity for New Zealand.

Stephen Jacobi, the executive director of the New Zealand China Council, says China's so called "Belt and Road" initiative will make trade with China easier by land and sea and New Zealand's just become the first Western nation to sign up.

He says the initiative could define the way in which trade and investment is done along that "Belt and Road."

But the New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, doubts bringing in Chinese companies to handle infrastructure projects will mean more jobs for people living in New Zealand.

Mr Peters told Morning Report National has failed to deliver needed infrastructure and China's practice in the Pacific, so far, has been to have its own people doing all the work.

He says New Zealand needs to be cautious.