China FTA upgrade talks to begin next month   28 Mar 2017

27 March 2017

New Zealand and China will begin talks on an upgrade of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries on April 25, Prime Minister Bill English announced today.

The announcement followed official talks between the Prime Minister and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Wellington today.

“The FTA with China has been an enormous success,” Mr English says.

“Since coming into force in 2008 two-way trade between our two countries has tripled to $23 billion, creating jobs and opportunities for people in both countries. An upgrade will ensure this momentum continues and ensure that the FTA remains a modern agreement that tackles barriers our exporters face.  It will assist progress towards our target of $30 billion two-way trade by 2020.

“The agreement to commence of negotiations also confirms the commitment of both countries to open trade and economic growth,” Mr English says.

“Trade openness and strong ties in the region are critical to New Zealand’s economic growth, prosperity, and job creation.”

Mr English says today’s meeting with Premier Li provided an opportunity to reflect on the successes achieved since New Zealand established diplomatic relations with China 45 years ago, and to set the agenda for the future.

“Premier Li and I also reiterated the value we see in people-to-people links between our two countries, including the nearly 35,000 Chinese students studying in New Zealand, and the 400,000 Chinese who visit annually.

“Both countries also confirmed their commitment to open trade, sustainable development, and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to agreeing a date for talks to begin on a FTA upgrade, the two leaders also announced a number of other initiatives, including:

  • Access to China for chilled meat from 10 New Zealand meat processors, initially on a six-month trial with a view to later expanding trade. 
  • A climate change action plan, to enable closer cooperation as both countries transition to lower carbon economies.
  • Mutual recognition of trusted exporters, which will facilitate faster border clearance times for the recognised New Zealand exporters who already account for nearly half of New Zealand’s $9.4 billion of goods exports  to China
  • An increase in the number of direct flights possible between China and New Zealand, from 49 to 59 under the Air Services Agreement.
  • Frameworks to explore new economic opportunities, including  on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at closer cooperation on regional infrastructure projects, and e-commerce, a growing platform that allows New Zealand companies to sell directly to Chinese consumers
  • Enhanced cooperation in a number of areas including agriculture, sustainable fisheries, in the South Pacific, environmental issues, education and training, international development, health research, and intellectual property.
  • Agreement to strengthen cooperation on judicial and law enforcement issues, to jointly fight corruption and transnational crime.

This is the Premier’s first visit to New Zealand as Premier, but he previously visited as Vice Premier in 2009.

“It was a pleasure to host Premier Li in New Zealand once again, together with his wife Madame Cheng Hong.

“I look forward to hosting them both at a China-New Zealand Gala in Auckland tomorrow.”

Source:  NZ Government

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