China and New Zealand have signed a deal to upgrade their existing free trade pact, which will give commodities exports from the Pacific nation increased access to the world’s second-largest economy.
New Zealand said the agreement “modernizes” the existing free trade agreement with China and ensures it remains fit for purpose for another decade. It makes exporting to China easier and is expected to reduce compliance costs for New Zealand exports by millions of dollars each year.
The upgrade will also mean that 99% of New Zealand’s nearly NZ$3-billion ($2.16-billion) wood and paper trade to China will be granted tariff-free access.
The deal will benefit New Zealand exporters of perishable goods such as seafood, the forestry sector, and other primary sector industries.
Existing conditions for dairy products have been maintained, with all safeguard tariffs to be eliminated within one year for most products, and three years for milk powder.
New Zealand was the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2008, which has long been touted by Beijing as an exemplar of firsts with Western countries.
China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with annual two-way trade of over NZ$32-billion ($21.58-billion).