Key Says China May One Day Become Biggest N.Z. Export Market

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said China may eventually surpass Australia as his country’s biggest export market as Asia’s economies drive growth while Europe struggles.

New Zealand’s free-trade agreement with China has been “hugely successful” since it was signed in 2008, Key said in response to a question after a speech in Sydney today. “We see huge opportunities in China, we think it’s worked really well for us.”

New Zealand’s exports to China are growing four times faster than its shipments to Australia. Sales to Australia rose 1.2 percent to NZ$10.4 billion ($8.4 billion) in the 12 months through May from the year-earlier period, compared with a 4.8 percent gain in exports to China totaling NZ$5.9 billion in the year through May, according to government figures.

Key said New Zealand wants to boost exploration in mining and oil and gas, adding it was envious of Australia’s drive to increase extraction, describing its rival across the Tasman Sea as “fundamentally a giant mine.” Oil is New Zealand’s fourth-largest export, he said.

Key said a lot of New Zealand’s natural resources are protected in national parks.

“We think there’s tremendous opportunities in terms of oil and gas,” he told the Trans-Tasman Business Circle. “We do have to balance our environmental responsibilities with our economic opportunities.”

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