China's decision to lower its annual GDP growth target to around 7 per cent should not have a significant impact on demand for New Zealand commodities, HSBC's chief economist for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Bloxham, said.

China's economy grew by 7.4 per cent last year - its slowest expansion for 24 years, and down from growth of 7.7 per cent in 2012 and 2013.

"Although China's growth is expected to slow, 7 per cent growth is still a rapid pace for an economy the size of China and means that it will still drive significant demand for commodities," Bloxham said.

"New Zealand's exposure to China is largely through its exports of dairy products, which means that it is dairy demand that matters most, not China's overall growth," he said.


After ramping up their inventories of dairy products in 2013, China had been running down inventories through 2014, which had meant weaker demand for New Zealand products.

"But with inventories having fallen, we are now expecting to see a pick-up in dairy demand from China this year, which should support New Zealand's exports," Bloxham said.

However, the situation with China's inventory buildup remained unclear, ANZ Bank rural economist Con Williams said.

Since 2008, New Zealand has seen a rapid increase in exports to China in all major commodities groups. "They have all been tripped up at one point or another, for various reasons, but at the moment we are noticing quite a slowdown in demand from China. That's of concern, not just for dairy, but for sheepmeat and the like."