Impact of milk scare 'limited' for NZ exports

Updated: 2013-08-14 07:38

By Yao Jing (China Daily)

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Under the agreement, all tariffs for Chinese exports to New Zealand will be eliminated by 2016, and 96 percent of New Zealand exports to China will be duty-free by 2019.

"The milk scare will bring some uncertainties to the solid bilateral trade relationship, but it won't upend the entire relationship.

"Twists and turns within a limited period are very normal. I think (New Zealand's) reputation for food safety is still there," said Wang.

As for Chinese importers of New Zealand goods, such as biscuits, seafood and spring water, the scare hasn't really hurt their business.

Beijing Phoenix Trading Co Ltd decided to import New Zealand seafood and spring water in 2009, just after the signing of the bilateral free trade agreement.

General Manager Xu Ming said he hasn't seen any sales decline following the milk contamination issue.

"In all, we sell six brands from New Zealand. We began to offer spring water at the beginning of 2012. Sales of spring water have increased by 30 percent year-on-year," said Xu.

Xu's biggest challenge is how to open the market. Even with the elimination of tariffs, prices for these high-quality products are still much higher than merchandise from other countries.

One 500-milliliter bottle of New Zealand spring water sells for 15 yuan ($2.45), compared with about 1 yuan for a bottle of Chinese-brand water.

"We are targeting well-heeled consumers in China as they pay more attention to the quality of life," said Xu.

Right now, the company is considering imports of other New Zealand food. "We have been doing business with the country for a long time, and we know they have high standards and strict food safety rules," said Xu.

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