China-New Zealand FTA to boost all-round development of trade ties

2008-04-05 17:57:11 Xinhua English

By Xingwei Huang

WELLINGTON, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The China-New Zealand free trade agreement, to be singed in Beijing on Monday, will boost bilateral complementary and mutually beneficial trade ties, and enrich the content of "China-New Zealand comprehensive cooperative relations for mutual benefits and win-win situation in the 21st century.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who pays a three-day official visit to China on Sunday, will witness the signing of FTA with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao. A 150-member New Zealand trade delegation is heading for Beijing to attend the ceremony and seek business opportunities.

Since the establishment of full diplomatic ties in December 1972, China-New Zealand friendly and cooperative ties have been developing smoothly with frequent exchanges of high-level visits and closer cooperation in agriculture, forestry, education and tourism in recent years.

New Zealand is also the first developed country to recognize China's full market economy status. China and New Zealand formally launched the free trade negotiations in December 2004 and concluded the talks in December 2007 following 15 rounds of negotiations. The FTA will be the first comprehensive deal China to be signed with a Western developed nation.

Both New Zealand political and business leaders highly value the FTA, saying the signing is a significant event in bilateral ties.

"The FTA is New Zealand's largest bilateral trade agreement since the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement was signed with Australia in 1983. It will give New Zealand exporters increased access to the world's fastest growing economy. China is already our third largest trading partner and a fast growing export market for us," said Clark.

New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff said: "Being the first developed country to sign a comprehensive FTA with China is an enormous achievement for New Zealand."

Given that New Zealand is ranked 50th 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, Goff said.

"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," Goff added.

Goff estimated the benefit to New Zealand of a free trade agreement with China is a growth in exports against baselines of between 225 million NZ dollars (176.5 million U.S. dollars) and 350 million NZ dollars a year and in due course a reduction in tariff payments worth 115 million NZ dollars.

Statistics released by the Chinese embassy in New Zealand showed, by the end of 2007, New Zealand has invested 750 million U.S. dollars in China with a total of 1,301 projects, while China invested 52.24 million dollars in New Zealand's non-financial sectors, including shipping, trade, forestry and tourism.

The two countries also have enormous cooperative potentials in environmental protection and mining.

Liu Linlin, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese embassy to New Zealand, described the FTA as a win-win agreement of mutual benefits.