NZ PM Luxon interested in Taiwan trade, not travel

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Luxon says he wants to increase trade links with Taiwan but, in deference to the One China policy, has ruled out visiting the island nation while he is leader.

Last week, New Zealand sent its first-ever official cross-parliamentary delegation to Taiwan, led by Labour MP Ingrid Leary and National MP Joseph Mooney.

The all-party group received the same message as Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu delivered in an interview with NZ media outlet Newsroom on Monday: Taiwan wants to trade more with New Zealand.

Taiwan is eager to join the 11-nation CPTPP trade bloc (which includes Australia and New Zealand) but is considered unlikely to be admitted, given China also wants membership.

New Zealand does not maintain official diplomatic ties with Taipei but is one of just a handful of nations to have a free trade deal, signed in 2013.

Mr Luxon - fresh back from a Southeast Asian trade mission to Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines - said his government has a goal of doubling its export value in the next decade, and plans to lean on Asia heavily to do so.

"We want to double our exports (so) we're interested in doing business with many, many nations across the world," he said.

Asked specifically if that included Taiwan, he said, "Yes, we already have a free trade agreement with Taiwan".

New Zealand's openness to Taiwan comes at a moment of geopolitical inflection, with the new right-leaning government exploring closer ties with the US and "traditional" partners.

Each of the countries Mr Luxon visited last week have strong relationships with Washington, with Thailand and the Philippines formally allied to the US.

While in Manila, Mr Luxon agreed to a military co-operation deal with the Philippines.

New Zealand's groundbreaking all-party delegation to Taiwan - which included MPs from all three right-leaning coalition parties - spent six days visiting cultural sights, meeting businesses and MPs, touring a science park, and taking briefings.

"It was about looking at the relationship with Taiwan, to understand its strategic significance, the opportunities, and also learn about strong indigenous links," Ms Leary told AAP.

Many thanked New Zealand for buying Taiwanese pineapples.

"There was a real sense of gratitude that New Zealand was importing Taiwanese pineapples as there was a glut after China vetoed importation at a critical time," she said.

"Japan took a lot of the product and New Zealand now is too ... we tried it many times and it was absolutely delicious.

"That seems like a positive thing to have done for Taiwan and mutually beneficial."

Ms Leary said Taiwanese officials wanted to bulk out its "economic co-operation agreement" with New Zealand - one of the few trade pacts it has with developed nations - to a modern free trade deal.

"When it was first signed (in 2013) it was very much a transactional type trade agreement," she said.

"They feel now they wanted to have a more nuanced approach and there were new chapters that could be added ... we said we'd carry that message back."

The delegation were guests of the Taiwan government.

Mr Luxon said Wellington's recognition of the One China policy - Beijing's firm stance that it was the sole legitimate government for all of China - would prevent him travelling to Taiwan.

"We have a longstanding policy of the One China policy, which it is important that we continue to uphold, and in that context, that is not something that I would be doing," he said.

He was less clear on whether he would sanction a trip by ministers, including Trade Minister Todd McClay, who visited China earlier this month.

"I'm not going to get into that," Mr Luxon said.

"What I would just say to you is that we are interested in expanding trade across the world. We want to double our exports and will look at trade opportunities anywhere and everywhere."