Exports from NZ worth $38b get tariff benefits in China over 12 years
Published: Mar 22, 2021 12:40 PM
A beekeeper tastes the fresh honey from a beehive in suburbs of Auckland on Oct. 9, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

A beekeeper tastes the fresh honey from a beehive in suburbs of Auckland on Oct. 9, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese companies have imported 247.14 billion yuan ($37.95 billion) worth of goods from New Zealand that benefited from tariff concessions following the implementation of the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in October 2008, China's General Administration of Customs said on Monday.

China's imports of New Zealand-origin goods that received tariff reductions and exemptions increased 23.1 percent year-on-year since 2009, and a total of 28.39 billion yuan in customs duties were exempted, with an annual growth rate of 31.5 percent.

According to the trade informational platform World's Top Exports, New Zealand's shipments to the Chinese mainland accounted for 29 percent of its total exports and New Zealand recorded a trade surplus of $2.4 billion in 2020.

China has been New Zealand's biggest trading partner since 2017. 

China and New Zealand signed an upgrading protocol of their FTA in January to improve the level of market opening based on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

"New Zealand is the first developed country that signed an FTA with China," Tu Xinquan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics said, adding that China and New Zealand are complementary in their industrial structures. Two-way trade has a bright outlook along with a stable China-New Zealand political relationship and the mutual trade protocol frameworks they have joined.  

Benefiting from extraordinary natural resources, agricultural products including livestock, milk and wool produced in New Zealand have been popular in China. 

New Zealand dairy company Fonterra reported a 38-percent rise of normalized earnings before interest and tax in its fiscal 2021 interim results released on Wednesday. Although it will sell its joint venture farms in China, Fonterra said that greater China will remain the focus in its market strategies, and it remains committed to develop its Chinese business by "bringing the goodness of New Zealand milk to Chinese customers".

The costs of importing New Zealand food including beef, mutton, dairy products and fruit were lowered under the FTA. Food company Comvita's Chinese branch imported a batch of New Zealand signature manuka honey with a 15-percent tariff concession, which means zero duties, saving 432,000 yuan. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company's administrator said that honey imports increased last year thanks to the tariff reduction policies.

Chinese companies have also sought to expand their exports to New Zealand through applying for certificates of origin under the China-New Zealand FTA. About 80,000 certificates have been issued with a total value of 13.65 billion yuan, mostly in the manufacturing areas of furniture, plastic products and clothes.