Investment chapter of the NZ–China FTA

The Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and China (NZ–China FTA) (see www.chinafta.govt.nz) was signed on 7 April 2008 and entered into force on 1 October 2008. Most attention to date has been on the trade provisions. This is unsurprising. It was a significant achievement, after three years of negotiations, to be the first developed country to establish a free trade area with China (see part 1) and the NZ–China FTA extends to both goods (see ch 3) and services (ch 9). New Zealand’s economy is powered by exports and the FTA will eliminate Chinese tariffs on 96 per cent of its current exports to China.

Another first for New Zealand in the FTA has received less attention. This is the investment chapter, ch 11, which effectively constitutes New Zealand’s introduction to the world of binding investor-state international arbitration. This article discusses the scope of ch 11, the relative experiences (or lack thereof) of both New Zealand and China in investment treaty arbitration and international developments likely to impact on how ch 11 is applied. It then considers the future.

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Related topics: International trade & investment; International trade agreements

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