New Zealand welcomes Xi

New Zealand welcomes Xi
China's President Xi Jinping shakes hand with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key at bilateral talks in Wellington.

President Xi Jinping was greeted in Wellington with a traditional Maori welcome on Thursday and was presented with an All Blacks rugby union jersey bearing the lucky number 8.

After a meeting between Xi and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the two nations signed 10 agreements in areas including climate change, television co-production, Antarctica, education, financing, tourism and food safety.

The TV deal allows programs jointly developed by both countries to be aired in China.

Xi highlighted the huge Chinese market and the popularity of New Zealand products in China.

"Possibly, New Zealand will have to worry about the fact that there is more Chinese demand than you can possibly supply", Xi said, drawing laughter at a joint news conference with Key.

Xi also called for closer cooperation in the IT sector, environmental protection and biological medicine, areas that China gives priority to and in which New Zealand has a proven track record.

China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, and two way trade grew by 25 per cent to US$18.2 billion (S$23.7 billion) in 2013.

Dairy products remain New Zealand's biggest export to China.

Trade volume this year is expected to exceed US$20 billion, moving closer to the target of US$30 billion by 2020, which was set by Xi and Key earlier this year.

Key said New Zealand would like to expand exports of agricultural and dairy products to China, welcome more Chinese investment and simplify visa procedures to attract more Chinese tourists and students.

"China's progress has been of huge, huge benefit to New Zealand and other developed economies," said Key.

Zhang Yuanyuan, former Chinese ambassador to New Zealand, said that although it is small, New Zealand is a global leader in dairy production, as well as in other fields, and has been targeting the Asian market, especially the Chinese one, for years.

The countries' booming ties will encourage other developed countries to engage with China, such as in the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific proposed by Beijing earlier this month, said Zhang.

Xi is due to arrive in Fiji on Friday for a state visit, the last leg of his South Pacific tour, which also took him to Australia.

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