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Historic first as New Zealand-China FTA signed


7 April 2008

Media Statement

Historic first as New Zealand-China FTA signed


Prime Minister Helen Clark and Chinese counterpart, Premier Wen Jiabao, today witnessed the signing of the historic Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and China in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

“Today’s ceremony is the culmination of 15 rounds of negotiations over three years. New Zealand is the first developed country to negotiate an FTA with China,” Helen Clark said.

“Over time this FTA will result in the elimination of tariffs on 96 per cent of New Zealand exports to China, and is estimated to lift New Zealand’s export revenue from China by between US$180 to US$280 million (NZ$225 to NZ$350 million) every year.

“The signing of this agreement is a very significant achievement for New Zealand. It opens up new opportunities for businesses looking to engage with, or grow their existing links with, China. It will facilitate goods and services trade, and investment.

“Overall, the FTA reduces barriers to our trade with China. It promotes co-operation in a broad range of economic areas, and also provides a platform for further engagement at the governmental, cultural, and people-to-people levels.

“New Zealand and China have also agreed to establish a working holiday scheme. New Zealand has such schemes with many other countries. This one will enable up to 1000 skilled young Chinese travellers to enter New Zealand on working holidays each year.

“There will also be provision for up to 1,800 skilled Chinese workers to enter New Zealand on work permits each year for work in both specialised fields such as Chinese traditional medicine, Mandarin language teaching, chefs specialising in Chinese cuisine, tour guides, and martial arts teachers, and in areas of specified skills shortage.

“New Zealand and China have also signed binding agreements on labour and environment, aimed at encouraging dialogue and co-operation in these two important areas,” Helen Clark said.

Helen Clark said that a dedicated website containing more information about the FTA is being launched today. The site, www.ChinaFTA.govt.nz , contains the full text of the agreement and a detailed guide to it. It features tools to assist New Zealand and Chinese businesses to take advantage of the FTA.

Information about the FTA will also be made available to New Zealand businesses in a series of five roadshows in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin over the next few weeks.

The objective is for the FTA to come into force on 1 October 2008, after the New Zealand Parliament has passed implementing legislation, and after the two countries have exchanged notes confirming that domestic legal procedures have been completed.

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