Grab China with both hands, Key says

Prime minister: New Zealand has to accept and welcome foreign investment that would create jobs.

Prime Minister John Key today told business leaders to grab the opportunities to trade with China "with both hands".

This also meant New Zealand has to accept and welcome foreign investment that would create jobs in the country, such as the Shanghai Pengxin deal.

Mr Key told the China Business Summit in Auckland that New Zealand is "going to see more Chinese investment in New Zealand".

He referred to the controversies over the Crafar farms bid from Shanghai Pengxin, a company which plans to announce further investment plans at the summit later today.

Opposition to such investment "was a really short sighted thing to do", Mr Key says.

"If someone is prepared to to come to New Zealand, create jobs, lift our products up the value chain, whether they come from China, Europe or the US, I do not care," he says.

Mr Key admitted he was on the public record that a simple sale of New Zealand farms was not in the country's best interest, but the Shanghai Pengxin deal was different.

It presented opportunities in distribution and creating products tailored for the Asian market.

"Significant jobs will be created in New Zealand," he says.

"We in New Zealand have to think about the future. If we want our kids to go to university, be paid a good wage and stay in New Zealand they have to have jobs to go to," he says.

But this will not happen if New Zealanders reject foreign investment.

The country was lifting its savings rate but still needed investment from overseas.

"The issue is not China. China is going to expand without us. The question is whether New Zealand gets a slice of the action. I support New Zealand grabbing it with both hands," Mr Key says.

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