New Zealand companies have signed a collaboration agreement with two Chinese food giants to investigate the development of a China-New Zealand agribusiness service and a food safety centre.
The agreement has been timed to coincide with Prime Minister John Key's trade delegation to China and the fifth anniversity of the free trade agreement between the two countries.
The New Zealand partners in the agreement are government owned auditing, certification and testing company AsureQuality and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
The Chinese partners are Mengniu Dairy Company, one of the biggest dairy manufacturers in China, and COFCO Corporation, the country's largest supplier of agricultural and food industry products and services.
AsureQuality sales and marketing manager Mark Inglis says it already provides quality assurance and auditing services as well as training for Chinese customers in the dairy and horticulture sectors.
He says the partnership agreement will investigate how to bring the New Zealand agribusiness services and food safety components together to form a centre of excellence in China.
Initially AsureQuality and PwC will work with the Chinese companies on a dairy-related food safety and farm assurance project.
As the partnership evolves it is expected that other New Zealand commercial and research interests in the agricultural sector will be brought in.