WELLINGTON, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand welcomed a senior Chinese Customs official Monday as the two countries step up efforts to fight drug smuggling.
New Zealand Customs Minister Maurice Williamson said the two- day visit by Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs Lu Peijun was an opportunity to strengthen bilateral customs activities.
"The visit by Mr. Lu Peijun is also particularly well timed. Customs is working with China's Anti-Smuggling Bureau on a number of initiatives to combat drug trafficking," Williamson said in a statement.
Last week in neighboring Australia, Lu signed an agreement with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to ensure the smooth flow of legitimate bilateral travel and trade, while stepping up the fight against the cross-border movement of illegal goods, with a focus on ContacNT, a pharmaceutical product that is a precursor chemical for illicit drug manufacture.
Members of the Chinese Anti-Smuggling Bureau visited New Zealand in May to discuss the trafficking of pharmaceuticals containing precursors, and to gain an understanding of Customs' intelligence and targeting operations.
"As our largest supplier and our second largest export market, our trade relationship with China is important. New Zealand Customs has an excellent working relationship with China Customs and we appreciate their willingness to work cooperatively with us on issues specific to New Zealand's trade," Williamson said.
In the year to July, New Zealand exports to China grew more than 10 percent from 5.6 billion to 6.2 billion NZ dollars (4.55 billion to 5.05 billion U.S. dollars) and imports from China grew about 9 percent from 6.7 billion to 7.3 billion NZ dollars.
This year is the fourth anniversary of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, and the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.