Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has had talks with internet giant Alibaba in China about setting up a New Zealand-based section of the site.

Alibaba is an online trading company with a staff of more than 25,000 which does more business than eBay and Amazon combined.

Bloomberg has reported that Alibaba is heading for an IPO, possibly next year, which may make it the second largest internet company in the world, behind Google.

Joyce met the company's chief executive, Jonathan Lu, during his visit to Hangzhou.


The meeting took place on November 12, the day after "bachelors' day" which is becoming "singles' day" - a day of celebration and shopping.

"It's huge," said Joyce.

"On November 11 they sold 35 billion yuan ($6.9 billion) worth of stuff in that one day through their website and it generated 140 million separate packages for delivery around China."

Joyce said Lu was a regular visitor to New Zealand and was coming down during summer.

"He's quite passionate about New Zealand anyway and they think the New Zealand brand is very strong and they are more than happy to have a New Zealand-based section of the site," he said.

Distribution for companies in China was complex but Alibaba had short-circuited a lot of that.

The aim of Joyce's talks was to get an understanding of the opportunities for New Zealand businesses to sell on their website.

"For Kiwi companies wanting to enter the Chinese market as an alternative distribution channel, it's quite significant and I think it will become more important."

Joyce said he also had discussion about how New Zealand Trade and Enterprise could give some New Zealand companies a primer about what Alibaba does in China.

Joyce attended three showcase events for New Zealand food and beverages in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing and he gave a keynote speech at the China High Tech Fair in Shenzhen.

He said New Zealand's trade focus in Asia tended to be on food, education and tourism and in the Americas and Australia it was more high-technology, food and tourism.

He wanted to see the Asian markets more interested in New Zealand technology developments.

He also talked to potential investors, particularly in forestry processing, and investors interested in building more hotels to support increasing Chinese tourism here.