WELLINGTON, May 14 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's largest exporters of dairy products, kiwifruits and lobsters have expressed confidence in the future of the Chinese market and further business expansion there.
"China is a very important market for Fonterra, about one third of our farmers' milk is sold as either ingredients, food service or consumer products across China," Teh-han Chow, Greater China CEO of Fonterra, a major dairy producer, told Xinhua on Saturday.
The Chinese economy has remained strong through COVID-19, Chow said, adding that Fonterra's relationship with China dates back to 1973 and it has benefited greatly from the healthy bilateral relationship, as well as agreements and policies including a free trade agreement (FTA) and regional trade agreement.
"Noticeably there has been new demand for dairy products to support health and wellness, which also has created opportunities for our patented products including probiotic strains," he said.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, the world's largest marketer of kiwifruit still sees strong growth potential in China, with demand forecast to double over the next five years, said Zespri's Executive Officer for Greater China Michael Jiang, adding China has been one of Zespri's largest markets for 20 years.
"We've also recently expanded our presence in Chengdu to better connect us to growers in one of China's major kiwifruit growing areas as we work to understand the opportunities for the New Zealand and Chinese industries to cooperate, be it through science, research or the development of new varieties," he said.
New Zealand's lobster exporters are also optimistic about post-COVID exports to China, boosted by an upgraded FTA that entered into force last month.
Andrew Harvey, general manager of Fiordland Lobster Company, New Zealand's largest exporter of live rock lobsters, noted that China's National Day Golden Week in October is always one of the most important events on the calendar for lobster exports.
"We're optimistic that it will be again this year, if COVID-19 allows," Harvey, whose company started lobster exports to China in the 1990s, told Xinhua.
New Zealand's rock lobster export industry is estimated at around 300 million New Zealand dollars (205 million U.S. dollars) per annum, statistics show.
Recent good news for New Zealand's export sector is the protocol on upgrading the China-New Zealand FTA taking effect in April.
The upgraded FTA makes exporting to China easier and reduces compliance costs for New Zealand exporters by addressing a range of non-tariff issues, such as a six-hour limit on customs clearance of perishable goods and proper storage while pending release.
"This will give New Zealand exporters, especially exporters of fresh seafood and fruit, more confidence that their cargo will be processed with minimal delay and reduce spoilage, which will save time and money," Huang Yuefeng, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese embassy in New Zealand, told Xinhua. ■