Muddy Waters

2 April 2020

New Zealand's emergency imports COVID-19 medical equipments supplies from China comes after trade ran strongly the other in the past two years.

Just as New Zealand is importing emergency supplies of COVID-19 testing gear, figures are emerging of how Chinese imports of essential medical items from New Zealand rose in steadily rampedup in the past two years.

The detail comes after a report on the Australian experience.  It is reported a Chinese property developing group “scoured” Australia to purchase bulk medical supplies.

At the centre of the rush to export medical supplies was the Greenland Group, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Greenland-based companies have been registered and deregistered in New Zealand for some time, according the Companies Office records viewed by The Mud Rotorua.

Quoting a company insider, the Sydney Morning Herald said Greenland scoured Australia to purchase bulk medical supplies, such as masks, gloves and thermometers, which were flown to China.

“All employees …. were asked to source whatever medical supplies they could.”

The task of sourcing and gathering the Australian supplies were prioritised over other work activities.

A statement to the Herald from Greenland Group confirmed the shipment, saying it felt compelled to source the goods to assist in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus in China.

As the accompanying graph sourced by The Mud shows, exports of selected medical equipment from New Zealand to China steadily increased from $4.8 million in 2010, reaching $9.4 million in 2016 and $12.1 million the following year. 

The Statistics Department trade figures (see graph above) show exports of key surgical/medical equipment, including masks, rose to $13.8 million in 2019, going to $16.7 million in 2019.  January and February 2020 reported increases over the same months 2019.

NZ medical supply exports to China jump

Source: Statistics New Zealand

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