No indication of China trade war threat: Key

Todd McClay seeks assurances. With special feature audio.

Prime Minister John Key says there is no indication China has threatened retaliatory trade measures if the New Zealand government launches an investigation into alleged steel dumping or steel safety issues.

"We have no indications that they have concerns with us. They haven't raised any of those issues with us." Mr Key told media in Jakarta last night.

The prime minister would not confirm or deny if MBIE is considering an investigation; the business ministry itself won't confirm or deny.

"On the wider issue, if there was a complaint and even if it were investigated, whether a country like China would take retaliatory action against New Zealand, I don't believe that's the case that they would."

Mr Key said there was "no substantial source" for the rumour – which was relayed to media by ex-trade negotiator Charles Finny (although Mr Finny tells NBR he is dubious about his own tip-off).

He added, "People can have their own version or view or idea of what might happen but our exports are flowing across the border to China, I regularly see the Chinese leadership, the Chinese ambassador has my phone number if he wants to pick it up and make a phone call. None of those things has happened."

Trade Minister Todd McClay also said he had no concerns about imported Chinese steel coming into New Zealand.

"We're a trading nation, we sell a lot of things to China and other parts of the world, and we import a lot of things from them as well, so in as far as our trade relationships are concerned, with China it's very strong," Mr McClay said.

However, Mr McClay added that he had asked officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to speak to the Chinese embassy and "seek assurances" about the country's position on competition issues.

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