China eyes NZ for global infrastructure project
China is looking to bankroll road and rail infrastructure projects in New Zealand as part of a global investment strategy.
Dubbed One Belt, One Road (OBOR), or the Belt and Road Initiative, it aims to create numerous major land and maritime transport corridors around the world.
The US$4 trillion initiative is likely to be on the agenda on Monday when Prime Minister Bill English meets with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who arrived in Wellington on Sunday night.
Premier Li has been one of the driving forces behind OBOR, and has signed deals across Asia and Africa for infrastructure projects upgrading or building new railways, roads, airports, and seaports.
Newshub understands China wants New Zealand to be part of the programme, with state-owned China Rail recently signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Northland Regional Council.
The MOU makes plain China Rail's desire to build road, rail, and digital infrastructure linking Whangarei to NorthPort and Marsden Point.
It could include an extension of the main trunk rail line, and there's talk of a 22km, four-lane expressway from Whangarei to the Port that would be tolled.
Trade Minister Todd McClay didn't know anything about the China Rail deal, but does want to discuss the OBAR initiative with Premier Li.
"It's fairly early days in exactly what China may be thinking in as far as its Belt and Road Initiative," says Mr McClay.
"We're very keen to hear from the Chinese about what they have in mind, and if there's something there that looks like it would be beneficial to the New Zealand economy and to New Zealanders, then certainly the Government is willing to consider it."