WELLINGTON, May 26 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand is "curious and interested" about the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and "is keen to get more understanding of it," its senior official Paul Goldsmith said Friday.
Coming back from the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on May 14-15, Goldsmith who is New Zealand's minister of science and innovation, minister of tertiary education, skills and employment, told Xinhua that the forum "was a very impressive and significant event."
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
As the head of the New Zealand delegation, Goldsmith told Xinhua that he got a better understanding of the long history of the Silk Road during the forum. He sees the Belt and Road Initiative as the re-management, re-invention and re-invigoration of the ancient trade routes.
The Silk Road is a starting point, said Goldsmith, it is an expression of support for the open market, reducing trade barriers, increasing connectivity across the world. He said that as a small trading nation, New Zealand "obviously has a keen interest on all those things."
New Zealand and China signed a ground-breaking memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road Initiative in March.
Being Minister of Science and Innovation, Goldsmith is particularly interested in the themes of the Belt and Road Initiative on innovation, which is the particular field that New Zealand is focused on.
New Zealand is also looking into how the two countries can continue to work together on innovation in many fields.
A lot of New Zealand universities have long time relationships with Chinese leading universities. Goldsmith said that there's a good prospect for New Zealand and China to further develop science connections under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Goldsmith said that attending the forum showed that New Zealand wanted to be part of the discussion. The longer-term target, according to him, is to work with China to develop a plan on how New Zealand can participate and contribute to the initiative.
For New Zealand business, Goldsmith said that New Zealand is "well aware of the opportunities that China provide," especially for bilateral trade.
New Zealand is the first developed country to sign the Free Trade Agreement with China back in 2008, after which the two-way trade between New Zealand and China are increasing rapidly.
Goldsmith said that the two countries have a deep and strong relationship, which is very important for New Zealand.
As a Member of Parliament living in Auckland, Goldsmith said the Chinese communities in kiwi's largest city provide various opportunities for New Zealand economy, adding a layer of Chinese entrepreneurism and connections to the Chinese market. "The combination is proved to be very powerful," said Goldsmith.