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Minister of Trade to sign NZ-China Free Trade Deal

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

4 April 2008
Media statement

Minister of Trade to sign New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement

Trade Minister Phil Goff will leave for China tomorrow where he will sign a historic Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and China.

Mr Goff will sign the agreement along with his counterpart, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, on Monday 7 April in a ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. The signature will be witnessed by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

“Being the first developed country to sign a comprehensive FTA with China is an enormous achievement for New Zealand,” Mr Goff said.

“By reducing barriers to trade in goods, services and investment in China, the FTA will give New Zealand businesses a distinct advantage over competitors into that market.

“Currently major New Zealand exporters into China face tariff barriers of between 10 and 20 percent.

“Being the first OECD member to conclude a deal was important for New Zealand because China is our fourth largest market for our exporters. Given that New Zealand is ranked fiftieth in size for Chinese exports, not to have achieved an early agreement with China could well have resulted in New Zealand being much further down the list for negotiations, and New Zealand exporters being in a position of disadvantage against competitors.

“Winning the Agreement now is also hugely important strategically for New Zealand. China is the world’s fastest growing economy and one of our fastest growing export markets.

Export of goods has already reached approximately $2 billion a year, while China is our largest source of international students and now our fourth largest source of tourists.

“The estimated benefit to New Zealand of a free trade agreement is a growth in exports against baselines of between $225 million and $350 million a year and, in due course, a reduction in tariff payments worth $115 million.

“The significance of the FTA is reflected in the size of the delegation accompanying me and the Prime Minister to China, of around 190 business people and civic leaders, including our top exporters.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will be working closely with New Zealand businesses to encourage and facilitate a proactive approach to engaging with China, and taking advantage of the opportunities the FTA opens up.

“Following signing I will lead a small business delegation to Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang, one of China’s most prosperous provinces, with which we do around $620 million in two way trade a year.

“Over the next couple of months, further trade delegations to China will be led by Auckland mayor, John Banks, to Guangzhou, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker to Wuhan, and Dunedin Mayor Peter Shin, to Shanghai”, Mr Goff said.


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