Trade Minister confirms diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor confirmed today that New Zealand has imposed a diplomatic ban on attendees of the Winter Olympics in China, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

In the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee today the Minister said that he supports New Zealand’s diplomatic boycott on human rights grounds and that whilst he did not directly raise concerns, he would try to stop the Government’s decision impacting New Zealand’s trade relationship.

“Deputy PM and Sports Minister Grant Robertson said New Zealand diplomats and Ministers would not be attending because of Covid but that athletes would. However O’Connor said today it was for political reasons.

“This needs to be clarified urgently before harm is done to the bilateral trade relationship between New Zealand and China, our largest trading partner.

“Damien O’Connor telling MPs he hadn’t raised concerns with his colleagues about the boycott and can’t remember the discussion in Cabinet is extremely concerning.

“I agree with Damien O’Connor that New Zealand is an export nation and trade is extremely important to our economy. We are waiting on China to ratify the Fair Trade Agreement upgrade. O’Connor needs to clarify the Government’s position and talk directly to his counterpart in China to avoid confusion and delays to the upgrade.

“This is an extremely important relationship for New Zealand. Any uncertainty over the Government’s position risks harming this relationship and therefore our exporters.

Two-way trade between New Zealand and China is worth more than $35 billion in the year to September 2021. New Zealand businesses export $20 billion of goods and services to China annually.