24 Jun 2011

China trade advisory board quits

2:12 pm on 24 June 2011

A vocal critic of New Zealand's trade strategy in China has led a mass walkout of a Government-appointed board helping promote business in the Asian giant's market.

David Mahon says he can no longer work with the Government's trade development body in China.

Trade Minister Tim Groser earlier this week dispatched the head of Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to Beijing to hear David Mahon's concerns first-hand.

But NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp's mission didn't satisfy Mr Mahon, who believes New Zealand is squandering its free trade deal with China and has as little as 18 months to sort out its strategy in the country.

Mr Mahon says communication had broken down between Trade and Enterprise's China staff and the board of private business people which provides advice to New Zealand firms in China, leading the eight-member board to resign en masse.

Mr Chrisp says there had been tension between the board and NZTE staff in China for some time but not as a result of a conflict over the China strategy.

However he says there is is room for improvement in the strategy.