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Demand from Asia influences Central Otago fruit planting

www.nzherald.co.nz by Southern Rural Life28/09/2018  

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China is becoming increasingly important as a market for Central Otago's viticulture and horticulture, says Central Otago District Council's economic development manager Warwick Hawker.

He said the recent 2018 labour market survey showed a significant increase in cherry plantings in the region to meet demand from overseas and particular Asian markets.

The wine sector was also experiencing good market growth in China.

''In China, people are becoming more sophisticated with wine drinking,'' he said.

''The young Chinese person sector is huge for us as they are becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated about wine.

''That, coupled with Chinese tourism, which share a lot of same demographics, is also becoming more important.''

Horticulture, although not a major market at the moment, has great potential.

There are new varieties of apricots being planted, which are sweeter, juicier and maintain crispness, which he said appealed to Chinese fruit eaters.

Indonesia was under-explored as a market and it had a huge population and was a wealthy nation.

Mr Hawker said New Zealand had a free-trade agreement with Indonesia, which meant good access to that market.

He said the wider Asian market, including Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, was also important.

India is potentially an increasing market for fruit and wine, and there are more tourists visiting in New Zealand's tourism off-season, as they like to avoid their summer heat.

Mr Hawker said the Chinese government's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) would provide further opportunities for trade.

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New Zealand China Council (NZCC) executive director Stephen Jacobi. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand China Council (NZCC) executive director Stephen Jacobi has been talking to groups throughout New Zealand about the BRI, and how businesses could gain leverage from the strategy.

Mr Jacobi said the strategy was launched by the Chinese government in 2013 and promoted closer ties with about 80 countries through development-led trade growth.

He said it was named after ancient trade routes the Chinese used.

''China is the centre of an 80-plus pronged hub as other countries want to work with it as well,'' Mr Jacobi said.

''We have a lot of competition to attract China's attention.

''The BRI is not a treaty, not a trade agreement and we are not giving up our sovereignty.

''It is a framework for the way China interacts with the rest of the world and New Zealand is coming to grips with it.''

He said the NZCC commissioned a report to identify areas where New Zealand could benefit from the initiative.

These included applications in the innovative and creative areas, such as gaming development, and film locations, as well as improved trade facilitation.

He said New Zealand could be used as a conduit for tourists coming from China to Latin America.

The BRI could also be useful for infrastructure construction, faster clearance of products going into China, and investment to and from China and New Zealand.

He said Central Otago's fruit and wine growers would benefit, as well as Chinese tourism both to and from China.