The Prime Minister John Key denies New Zealand is too dependent on trade with China.
“We're obviously taking advantage of the enormous consumer demand that’s there in China, and the alternative would be to sort of not fill that demand, in which case you know realistically either we'd have to find other markets for those products, not increase the production which we've effectively been doing over the last few years. So I think sometimes you say well it just doesn’t make sense to turn your back on that opportunity," Mr Key said on TVNZ's Q+A this morning.
"But I think what is really important for the government is to have a plan that’s much broader than just China, and we do that," the PM added.
"It's one of the reasons why for instance we're in Hong Kong today. This market represents only 850 million dollars' worth of sales to us, so it's nothing compared to the 18.2 billion dollars we sell into China and rising rapidly. But we're still here because we're still focusing on this market as we will when we go to other European markets.”
Mr Key said there is a limit to how much more milk New Zealand can continue to produce and the dairy industry needs to focus to grow its value-added products.
“There is a limit to the amount of farmland, a limit to the amount of water, and we're always conscious of our environmental issues,” he said.
“I don’t think we've reached that point, but I think we're extremely conscious of the fact that you know we have a lot of different strains of our economy and as you quite rightly pointed out, our environmental credentials are important. Funnily enough they're important not just for people that come to visit New Zealand or for New Zealanders' enjoyment, they're actually very important to underpin why consumers buy the very products we're selling into China. That is they think the environment is clean and green and the food is safe.”
The Prime Minister said his Government would not be banning the sale of dairy farms to China or any other country – but he wouldn’t want our industry to be dominated by a large foreign player:
“I don’t think we want to get to a point where we're effectively having a Chinese replica of Fonterra or any other country having a replica of Fonterra in New Zealand on that scale. I think it's okay when you’ve got some – in fact it's quite healthy when you’ve got a little bit of competition happening there, but…
So it's a size, then because it's not too big you're not too worried?, host Corin Dann asked.
"That’s our view," the PM replied.
Watch the full interview here.