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Minister: China seeks access to New Zealand labor market for its skilled labor

Minister: China seeks access to New Zealand labor market for its skilled labor

China wants better access to New Zealand's labor market for its skilled workers, but Trade Minister Phil Goff on Wednesday said that was unlikely to happen unless China reciprocated by opening up its services sector.
The two nations are negotiating a free trade agreement, the first by China with a developed economy, and Beijing's Commerce Minister Bo Xilai suggested that China had skilled labor that could plug the gaps in New Zealand's labor market.
"China has expressed an interest in facilitating the temporary entry of its skilled workers to fill gaps in the New Zealand labor market," Goff said.
"It (China) is entitled to make the request but this does not indicate the request will be met," Goff said.
The minister did not rule it out, but said the government would not contemplate doing anything that would threaten wages and conditions of New Zealand workers.
The opposition Green Party said such access could erode local working conditions, but business interests welcomed the proposal.
"I think this question can be discussed between the two sides on the basis of mutual benefit," Bo told the New Zealand Herald newspaper Monday, after meeting with Goff in the northern city of Auckland.
Access in specialist areas such as traditional Chinese medicine, chefs and teachers of Mandarin, as well as a working holiday scheme for qualified young Chinese might be considered if China were to provide a high quality package in response to New Zealand's interests, Goff said.
But up to now, there has been no indication that China plans to open up its market to New Zealand service industries like insurance, banking and education, he said.
"Requests for temporary skilled worker access over wider categories will be treated with caution," Goff said.
Green Party co-leader Richard Norman said the party has made it clear to the government that free trade deals, which did not take the environment or people into account, would not be in the best interest of New Zealand.
Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the idea has merit as long as the government set reasonable criteria.


Updated : 2021-05-12 07:45 GMT+08:00