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China trade agreement upgrade to reflect modern trading relationship: PM

Anuja Nadkarni 14:48, May 14 2018

Trade Minister David Parker says trade tensions and growing protectionism had made it a difficult period for New Zealand to navigate global trade.

Trade Minister David Parker is hoping for "quick and substantial progress" in negotiations for an upgrade to New Zealand and China's Free Trade Agreement.

Parker said the 10-year-old FTA with China would receive an update in "coming weeks".

An area of concern that would be discussed in the FTA upgrade was e-commerce and border security compliance.

He told a room of businesspeople that New Zealand was suffering more biosecurity issues, such as Mycoplasma bovis, because border security arrangements had not moved on to reflect peer-to-peer importing through e-commerce.

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E-commerce trade lacked compliance measures, he said.


Parker said trade tensions and growing protectionism had made it a difficult period for New Zealand to navigate global trade.

"As a little country we are reliant on the international rule of law to stand up for us and explain the NZ interest," he said. 


Over the 10 years of the FTA, China has become one of New Zealand's largest export markets.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, also at the event, said the upgrade to the FTA would reflect New Zealand and China's modern trading relationship. 

She said the Government would bolster the trade relationship with China through a few scheduled state visits by ministers this year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is also expected to make an official visit to China in the "very near future".

Ardern also hinted at New Zealand's involvement in China's Belt and Road initiative.

"Belt and road initiative is a priority [for] China, and New Zealand is considering areas we want to engage in and other areas we will be interested observers," Ardern said.

Last year New Zealand signed a memorandum of understanding for the One Belt One Road initiative, referred to by some as the New Silk Road.

The $1 trillion initiative, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to improve the country's connections with Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe by funding hundreds of infrastructure projects along ancient trade routes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the upgrade to the FTA will reflect New Zealand and China's modern trading relationship.

She said over the 10 years of the FTA, China had grown to become one of New Zealand's largest export markets.

"Next year will be the China New Zealand year of tourism ... But we must look further, and we're now exploring new fields of co-operation in agri-tech, science and technology.

"I expect this trend to continue into the future."

On the United States' and China's interference in the Pacific, Ardern said New Zealand had not developed its relationship with the Pacific enough and as a result the Pacific nations had built a "number of relationships with others".

Last week, Peters announced that more than $714 million in foreign aid was "heavily prioritised" towards Pacific nations.

Ardern said: "This is about us taking responsibility for what we are meant to be doing.

"We will never be the biggest donor in the Pacific. But we can make sure we strengthen the importance of the Pacific."


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