Thursday 26th April 2018
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Alibaba Group chief executive Daniel Zhang will meet with business leaders and government agency heads, but doesn't have any formal ministerial meetings planned during his trip to New Zealand.
The Chinese e-commerce platform has invited a number of government agencies to several events where Zhang will speak to New Zealand businesses about Alibaba's own enterprise and global initiatives, a spokeswoman for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an emailed statement to BusinessDesk. Zhang will also co-host a lunch with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise head Peter Chrisp for chief executive-level representatives at "a number of leading New Zealand businesses and government agencies".
"Given the business focus of Mr Zhang’s programme, at this stage he is not scheduled to meet any ministers," she said.
The visit comes ahead of the May 14 China Business Summit where Alibaba managing director of Australia and New Zealand Maggie Zhou will deliver a keynote speech on the changing nature of retail in China. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Trade Minister David Parker are also scheduled to talk at that event.
In 2016, Alibaba and NZTE signed a memorandum of understanding for discussions to strengthen trade between the two nations in a ceremony overseen by then-Prime Minister John Key and Alibaba executive chair Jack Ma. E-commerce was an area both countries agreed fell within the scope of negotiations for the upgrade to the nations' existing free trade agreement.
Earlier this year, Fonterra Cooperative Group launched a fresh milk product in China in partnership with Alibaba's Hema Fresh retail concept, selling fresh milk in Shanghai and Suzhou sourced from the New Zealand dairy company's farm hub in the Hebei province.
Zhang's New Zealand trip is hot on the heels of Ma's brief visit in February when he checked on a local farm investment in the Waikato region.
The Alibaba CEO's visit is more formal and follows a trip to Australia earlier this week, where he spoke of the opportunities for exporters to take advantage of China's growing consumer appetite for imported goods and played down the impact political tensions between Australia and China were having on business.
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