NZ exporters optimistic despite China’s economy slowing

Despite China's economy growing at the second slowest rate in almost half a century - New Zealand exporters remain optimistic about the Asian market's potential in 2023.

After three years of battling Covid, China's economic expansion has slowed, growing at just 3% in the last year, well shy of Beijing's set target of 5.5%.

The world's second largest economy is worth around 27 trillion dollars - and is New Zealand's largest trading partner.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures show the value of two-way trade with China was valued at over $38 billion in 2022, with dairy and meat among our biggest exports.

And while the weaker markets have seen dairy and meat prices fall, exporters remain confident.

The Meat Industry Association's Sirma Karapeeva says "going forward, while there is some softening both in terms of global prices and demand, there is plenty of opportunity".

NZ China Council's executive director Alistair Crozier says it as clear last year that China's lockdowns were having an impact on the country's economy.

But he says it's move away from its zero Covid approach will see a rebound - though not as big as pre-pandemic historic highs.

"I don't think we will ever see a return to the really heady days of almost double digit GDP growth. But three per cent in an economy as big as China, that's still a remarkable achievement given all the interruptions that a third year of trying to keep Covid out of the country has had."

New Zealand's trade commissioner in Shanghai, Richard Dunsheath, says it has been challenging for businesses trading with China, especially those who were unable to visit and build those vital relationships.

But even with those challenges he says there's ample opportunity for Kiwi businesses in the Asian market - opportunities that will continue to grow through the coming years.

"You've got a huge middle class, which has got a high disposable income and is still growing very quickly."