China-New Zealand FTA upgrade ‘effort against protectionism’

By Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/4 21:03:41

Sino-New Zealand FTA upgrade ‘effort against protectionism’

Photo: VCG

China on Monday announced it has completed talks for an upgraded free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand, which an expert said showed the two countries' efforts to insist on free trade in the global market, which is facing protectionism. 

Exporters from China and New Zealand will benefit from the upgraded FTA, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement released on Monday.

The development showed both countries' hope to reach an ambitious, modern and high-quality agreement that could meet the requirements of bilateral economic and trade relations, which will expand in terms of scale and be more dynamic in the future, the MOFCOM said.

In 2008, New Zealand became the first developed country to sign an FTA with China. It has been working with China to upgrade the agreement for the past three years.

"This ensures our upgraded FTA will remain the best that China has with any country," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement released after her meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Thailand at the East Asia Summit.

New rules will make exporting to China easier and reduce compliance costs for New Zealand exporters by millions of dollars each year. These rules will mean, for example, faster border clearance of fresh food, as well as other products that may have transited through other countries or regions en route to China, read the New Zealand statement.

"Given the context that protectionism has risen in the global market, the two countries took practical steps to show the world that promoting free trade is the proper and right growth route across the globe," said Liu Qing, director of the department for Asia-Pacific security and cooperation at the China Institute of International Studies. The demonstration effect from China and New Zealand is expected to grow and help both countries pursue high-quality trade and economic development, Liu told the Global Times on Monday. 

Bilateral trade is complementary as China has rising demand and a large market for New Zealand's high quality farm products, according to Liu.

China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade in goods reaching $16.86 billion in 2018, up 16.4 percent on a yearly basis, according to MOFCOM.

The updated FTA will grant New Zealand more scope for technology cooperation in sectors like 5G with Chinese companies, which is likely to have good prospects, Liu said.

New Zealand telecom carrier Spark announced over the weekend that it was conducting trials of a private 5G service on the water for the Emirates Team New Zealand America's Cup yachting team, local industry news site reported Sunday.

The network was delivered by Spark's long-time network partner Huawei, which has remained under a security shadow since last November when New Zealand's security agency barred Spark's use of Huawei's gear for 5G, the report said.

The new FTA upgrades some chapters such as customs procedures and cooperation, rules of origin and technical trade barriers, and adds chapters such as e-commerce, environment and trade, competition policy and government procurement, the MOFCOM statement said.

The two sides also made new commitments in sectors including market access for goods and services trade and investment, the MOFCOM said.

Newspaper headline: Sino-New Zealand FTA upgrade ‘effort against protectionism’

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