Premier Li visits New Zealand – FTA to be upgraded

The biggest development from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's successful visit to New Zealand this week was the commitment to upgrade the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA).


Negotiations will begin next month, with the first round of talks being held on 27 April in Beijing.


The China-New Zealand FTA, a world first for any developed country, was a significant achievement for both partners when it was signed in 2008, and has allowed the relationship between the two countries to grow and deepen.


Other commitments either entered into - or reinforced - while Premier Li was in New Zealand include the signing of:


    • a Memorandum of Cooperation to begin a six-month trial for exporting chilled beef, goat and sheep meat to China

    • a Memorandum of Cooperation agreeing to an export plan for Chinese onions to New Zealand

    • a mutual recognition agreement to reduce border clearance costs for exporters recognised as “trusted" to the importing nation (this is to take effect on 1 July 2017)

    • an Arrangement of Cooperation on Electronic Commerce

    • a Memorandum of Arrangement on Strengthening Cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative – China's flagship policy to drive its global interconnectedness

    • an Environmental Cooperation Framework between the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd and the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Science

    • a Communique to promote sustainable fisheries governance and to combat illegal fishing

    • an Arrangement to strengthen exchanges on international development cooperation, including in the Pacific region, and

    • a Health Research Arrangement on blue skies research cooperation between the New Zealand Health Research Council and China's Natural Science Foundation.

Also, some environment and agricultural announcements were made, including the commitment to enhancing bilateral climate change cooperation and expertise exchange and an Agricultural Growth Partnership to focus on animal health.


The two countries have also agreed to strengthen cooperation on judicial and law enforcement issues and to fight corruption and transnational crime jointly.


Commitments made on the tourism front include increasing the maximum allowable number of direct flights between the two countries each week from 49 to 59 immediately, five-year business/tourist visas and use of the SmartGate for Chinese passport holders and naming 2019 the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism.  


It is encouraging to see the further progress of the two nations' relationship as a result of this visit. Our dedicated China Desk advises Chinese investors and companies entering or active in the New Zealand market through a focused, multi-disciplinary team of M&A, property, finance, commercial and litigation specialists. Our senior partners and Mandarin-speaking lawyers work together to obtain the best possible outcomes for clients.


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