John McKinnon, Ambassador of New Zealand to China [Photo provided by New Zealand Embassy in Beijing]
The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation concluded in Beijing on Monday with a broader consensus reached among China and participating countries and organizations.
In an Interview with China Radio International, New Zealand's Ambassador to China, Mr. John McKinnon, reaffirmed his country's support for the Belt and Road Initiative and against the rise of anti-globalism and protectionism.
McKinnon said he believes the Belt and Road Forum brings opportunities, coordination and cooperation among a variety of country and regions, including New Zealand. "It is an important occasion for New Zealand to meet other countries, to hear widespread views and to follow up our responsibilities on certain area," said McKinnon.
With a perceived growing tendency towards anti-globalization and protectionism within a number of countries, McKinnon says the government of New Zealand believes the "Belt and Road Initiative creates "moves towards international liberal trading order, toward anti-protectionism and globalization".
New Zealand was one of the first industrialized countries to openly support the Belt and Road Initiative. New Zealand already has a leading role in working with China among the advanced economies. New Zealand was one of the first developed countries to launch plans to upgrade its existing FTA agreement, as well as one of the first to fully acknowledge China's full market economy status. New Zealand is also a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
"Our country is not large economy. We make policy decision more straight forward which allows us to respond more rapidly than others to new development and new initiative. Becoming a founder member of the AIIB has reflected the approach that we treat the Belt and Road Initiative, because New Zealand can see the values and opportunities and ways to broadening cooperation and coordination among the great variety of countries" said McKinnon.
2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and New Zealand. "Our relationship has moved a long way since 1972. And particularly since 2008 when we signed the Free Trade Agreement, China has become one of New Zealand's leading political and economic partners," said McKinnon.
McKinnon also noted that Premier Li Keqiang's visit to New Zealand in March, 2017 saw the two sides launch a number of new programs and projects. More are expected to be signed through the Belt and Road Initiative.