When it comes to the outlook for New Zealand's primary
industries, China is very firmly in the spotlight.
Seemingly insatiable demand growth in China for food has
fuelled a sharp rise in New Zealand's export returns over the
Whether for dairy products, meat and wool, aquaculture or
logs, there is no denying China is a crucial market.
Dairy export to China has grown from $0.2 billion revenue in
2001 to $6.1 billion for the year ended March 2014, and
market share has soared from 2.6% to a whopping 35%.
It is now New Zealand's largest market for sheep meat, and
second largest market for beef by both value and volume.
Exports of lamb and mutton to China increased 76% in the year
ended June 2013 and it is set to remain the most important
market for wool exports, accounting for 56% of exports in the
year to June 2013.
Demand from China for logs is driving the growth of the
Global log prices are at historically high levels, reflecting
China's consumption of wood products.
An easing in growth is expected in China this year and next
year, with a rebalancing of consumption from low to
higher-value commodities and an easing in infrastructure
New Zealand is seen as well placed to take advantage of that
structural shift in consumption, which is reflected in
significant growth in exports to China.
Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne
is right when he says ensuring the long-term strength of New
Zealand's relationship with China - and all of Asia - is
critical to our economic success.
For relationships in China are key.
Doing business there is tough and anyone thinking they can
make a quick buck is sadly mistaken.
There is a very big danger of relying too much on one market.
Diversity is needed - both with markets and also exports.
We cannot rely solely on the dairy industry for our economic
prosperity; all primary industries need to be strong, robust
and sustainable both economically and environmentally.
Nor can we rely solely on China to be our dragon in shining