|New Zealand Prime Minister John Key speaks at the inaugural China Business Summit at the Langham Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, Oct. 3, 2012. The China Business Summit was held in New Zealand's largest city of Auckland on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Huang Xingwei)
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The China Business Summit was held in New Zealand's largest city of Auckland on Wednesday with an the inaugural address by Prime Minister John Key who discussed the government's evolving China strategy and future direction.
Some 300 business people and trade officials in New Zealand attended the China Business Summit which served as a platform to increase business engagement between New Zealand and China.
In his opening speech, Key said 2012 marks an important milestone in the New Zealand-China relationship, as the two countries were celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
"This is significant, and is a reflection of the very strong relationship we have built with China," said the New Zealand prime minister.
These days, China is New Zealand's second-largest export market and New Zealand's goods exports to China have trebled in only four years. Two-way trade in 2011 totaled 13.3 billion NZ dollars (10.9 billion U.S. dollars) and this is rising all the time, Key said.
The two countries are on track to achieve the goal set by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Key in 2010 of doubling the trade to 20 billion NZ dollars per annum by 2015.
Key also mentioned that the number of Chinese tourists to New Zealand grew by over 30 percent last year and China is now New Zealand's largest market for foreign students.
Key said the China strategy, launched by the New Zealand government in February, has a strong trade and economic focus. It sets out ambitious, high-level goals, together with actions to achieved them.
Key added that the China Strategy has been positively received in New Zealand and in China.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, who organized the business summit, said China offers huge opportunities for New Zealand businesses, but too few are taking the plunge and entering the market.
"By 2020 China will be the world's largest economy and while it 's already New Zealand's second largest trading partner, there is scope for far more benefit for New Zealand business," Barnett said.
"There has been a lot of talk about business with China and not enough action. The China Business Summit will provide an overview of where things are now, but more importantly will be practical and result in action points and future steps," he said.
"The free trade agreement was signed four years ago and while some businesses have taken advantage of the opportunities, we have barely scraped the surface. And it's not just the large companies which can benefit from trade with China; there are excellent opportunities for businesses of all sizes," he added.