China is a rapidly-growing market for New Zealand, with room for more expansion. Our key offshore products are education and dairy; however many other sectors are also exporting to China.

Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) has an Economic Relations Manager – Asia. This role involves assisting visits to China supporting local institutions and businesses, facilitating civic and business connections in China. The primary engagement is with Wuhan, Hubei province. This is the established economic city relationship, formalised by an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between Christchurch City Council (CCC) and the municipality of Wuhan. It is a good central location to get to other cities by air and high-speed train.


Quick Facts

  • Christchurch ports had $1.2 billion of cargo exports to China in 2012, mostly through the seaport
  • This represents around 16 percent of Christchurch’s total exports of cargo
  • $604 million was exports of dairy produce through the seaport to China
  • Around 18 percent of New Zealand’s exports to China go through Christchurch
  • 1,758 international fee-paying students in Canterbury in 2012 were from China, including 755 at tertiary institutions (Source: Education Counts)

Market Trends and Projects

Increasing Trade with China

The volume of trade occurring between China and New Zealand is increasing. China is now our largest trading partner, surpassing Australia. This is in part being driven by the China-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

China Urbanisation

China has a growing middle-class as a result of continuing urbanisation and growth in the country. The growing middle-class will lead to a growing demand for products such as milk powder and meat, and increasing demand for luxury products such as wine and imported clothing.

Manufacturing Costs

The cost of mass production (particularly in manufacturing and electronics) is still cheaper than New Zealand; however China’s continued growth and inflation is reducing its attraction as a low-cost manufacturer, with some production facilities already moving to countries such as Vietnam.

International Student Marketing

Christchurch Educated is conducting marketing drives in China to attract students to New Zealand.

Sister City and Other Civic Relationships

Christchurch has sister-city relationships in Wuhan City and Gansu Province. The objective of sister-city relationships is to promote opportunities for trade and partnership; share cultures; and build tourism links.

Investment in Christchurch Rebuild

CDC is facilitating investment in the Christchurch rebuild from China.