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New Zealand to sign free trade agreement with China in April

New Zealand to sign free trade agreement with China in April

New Zealand will sign a free trade agreement with China in early April, the government announced Tuesday _ the first such deal between the Asian economic powerhouse and a developed economy.
Trade Minister Phil Goff said outstanding technical requirements and processes to finalize the deal "are on track for completion" in coming weeks.
The signing ceremony and related events are "planned to take place in Beijing from 6 to 9 April," he said.
China and New Zealand began 15 rounds of detailed negotiations for the agreement in July 2004, as China sought to consolidate and extend its trading arrangements with developed economies.
Beijing said it had selected New Zealand to enter the talks as it was the first developed economy to recognize the emerging China as having a market-based economy. New Zealand was also the first Western nation to have reach a bilateral deal with China on its accession to the World Trade Organization.
"This FTA has been negotiated with the overriding objective of opening up economic opportunities for New Zealand business in China and to boost commercial ties with our now third largest trading partner," Goff said.
Earlier, he predicted the trade deal potentially will boost New Zealand's exports of goods and services to China by up to 400 million New Zealand dollars (US$326 million; euro219 million) a year.
Two-way trade between the two states is worth more than 4.8 billion New Zealand dollars (US$3.9 billion; euro2.6 billion) a year, with Chinese exports making up about 80 percent.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said Monday the free trade agreement would cut tariff barriers for New Zealand farm exports to China. Farm output makes up half of New Zealand's annual economic production.
"China has very open access to our market now. The key breakthrough in this agreement with China will be us getting some reciprocity because we do face quite significant tariffs on key exports," she told reporters.
"There's no question in my mind that ... it is a very, very big move for the Kiwi economy _ very big and very beneficial," Clark said.
It would be the largest free trade agreement for New Zealand since it signed the closer economic relations agreement with Australia in 1982, she noted.
Beyond trade in goods, the agreement covers the services sector, from insurance and banking to education and labor supply.
China has already sought agreement from New Zealand for specialist workers, including chefs and Chinese language teachers, to work in New Zealand. Goff has said New Zealand will study the proposal closely.
Some 3.5 percent of New Zealanders are of Chinese origin.


Updated : 2021-07-28 13:30 GMT+08:00