Boost from Chinese baby boom

Xiutian Tan
Xiutian Tan
The relaxation of China's one-child policy is expected to result in a massive baby-boom in the Asian country and the Waimate district could be better placed than anywhere else in the South Island to cash in on the boom, the Chinese Consul-General Xiutian Tan says.

Speaking exclusively to the Otago Daily Times during a two-day visit to the Waimate district yesterday to view progress on a $210 million dairy plant being built at Glenavy for Chinese company Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Ms Tan said the factory would have a small but ''important'' role in feeding the country's growing population, after the Chinese Government last month announced it would relax its controversial ''one-child policy'' and allow some families to have two children.

''We have a huge population and a baby boom, maybe next year ... so we will have more babies and we will need more milk.

''Waimate is a very important area for us - the Yili factory has been building here and I think the biggest Chinese investment on the South Island is in Waimate [district].

''It's very important for China since we have a huge population. We need more dairy product than other countries and I think you need job opportunities to be created here in Waimate.''

Ms Tan said she had been ''very impressed'' by the level of support for the project in Waimate and wider South Canterbury both from local government and local people.

''With the co-operation from the Kiwi side in Waimate we have more and better solid milk to offer to our babies in China and for Waimate more jobs will be created and more farmers will be more interested to go to China and see things with their own eyes - and the Chinese wish to know Waimate better.''

That could also lead to more tourism and an increase in the numbers of students coming to the area, she said.

Ms Tan said the factory being built in Glenavy should be finished by the first half of 2014 and the first products should roll off the production line by about August.

The plant would produce 47,000 tonnes of formula for China in its first full year of operation.

Although the Yili factory would have to be ''booming'' before further investment and expansion would be made, the size of the business could increase ''with local support''.

However, the benefits of investing in another country would flow both ways, and China also needed more investment from New Zealand's creative and food industries, as well as New Zealand business and management expertise.

''We need to invest abroad, meanwhile we need Kiwi investment in China, too.''

Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley said the visit from the consul-general was evidence of the willingness to foster good relationships between Waimate and a country that was set to become a ''major employer'' in the district.

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