Strong relationship rewarded
Commitment to the Chinese market shows benefits.
While there is chatter about the relationship between New Zealand and China at the highest levels, I can confirm the relationship at the market access level for horticulture is very strong.
I have just returned from what has become an annual trip to Beijing to participate on the New Zealand stand at the China Fruit and Vegetable Fair, FVF. While the fair itself is a little underwhelming, the political importance is huge. The fair is sponsored by the General Administration of Customs, a border agency supervising inbound and outbound activities, and is attended by some very high-ranking officials.
NZ’s participation is always regarded very highly, in both the meetings we have with the officials and the dinner we host for them. NZ Avocados joined Apples & Pears NZ, and three apple exporters, Persimmons NZ, Onions NZ, a cherry exporter and Plant & Food Research on the NZ stand.
Not all industries interested in the China market attend, and I would encourage them to do so. We have been attending for five years now, four of those years we attended before we had access. I believe our attendance has demonstrated our industry’s commitment to the Chinese market, which in turn has supported our access negotiations.
Following the formal opening ceremony, the delegation goes through the show, and the NZ stand is the first port of call. The handshakes of recognition are always very welcoming and the Chinese enjoy hearing some of our stories. At the dinner, the official formalities are very friendly, and the conversation is complimentary of NZ’s commitment from MPI China and the industries who support the show.
An interesting comment was made by China in the meeting. Although NZ has had a few issues on the border with horticulture products, she said, as soon as there was an issue, the embassy would be informed. She was clearly saying that good behaviour is a credit to us until that good behaviour is no longer experienced. There is no such as thing as building brownie points to use later.
Therefore, our industries need to ensure that very strong relationships are maintained both with NZ’s own team in
Beijing, and with Chinese officials, to deal with any issue if and when they arise.
In the more relaxed surroundings at dinner, the officials talked about the strength and length of the relationships, and highlighted the very positive relationship they have with the NZ Government officials in China.
Rather impressively too, we see the respect our officials pay to the Chinese, with Dave Samuels, deputy director general, MPI China, singing a song at the dinner in both Chinese and M-aori. All those at the dinner were wowed by that, and I think we all quietly promised ourselves that we would learn more Te Reo M-aori before the next visit!
“There is no such as thing as building brownie points to use later.”