China's Li pays 'very positive' visit to Fonterra, New Zealand minister says

Chinese Premier Li Qiang meets NZ PM Luxon in Wellington, New Zealand

(Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Qiang visited New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra on Saturday, a stop Trade Minister Todd McClay called "very positive" after the Chinese leader had spoken of demand for New Zealand's agricultural products.

"Fonterra is an important part of the Chinese food supply chain, a lot of our dairy products go to China," McClay said in comments broadcast on Radio New Zealand after Li visited Fonterra's Auckland headquarters with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

Li said on Friday, the second day of his trip to the Pacific island nation, that there was growing demand in China for high-quality dairy, beef and lamb products from New Zealand.

China's second-highest ranked official is to travel to Australia on Saturday for a four-day stopover on a trip aimed at strengthening trade and diplomatic ties with the two commodities-exporting nations. China is the biggest trading partner of both countries.

Beijing sees itself as a key part of Luxon's plan to double New Zealand's exports over the next 10 years.

"I think it was clear there was a real appreciation on the part of the premier of China and their delegation just about how much that relationship has grown."

On Friday, Li visited Auckland's New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, a government agency that promotes the farming, food and beverage industries, before meetings and a dinner with business people, academics and diplomats.

Li met with Luxon in the capital Wellington on Thursday, signing agreements on trade and climate change, with human rights also on the agenda.

In the first visit by a Chinese premier to Australia since 2017, Li is to visit the South Australia state capital Adelaide, the national capital Canberra and the mining state of Western Australia.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)