NZ set as 1st advanced nation with China FTA
NEW Zealand is likely to be the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China, hopefully before April 2008, visiting New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff has said in Shanghai. "We look forward to working through the areas of outstanding differences and delivering an agreement that fulfills the leaders' mandate within the timeframe set in April this year," said Goff. He said the pact is set to be concluded between April 2007 and April 2008, making the country the first developed nation to sign an FTA with China. Goff was leading the largest ever New Zealand trade delegation in Shanghai from Monday until yesterday. The 120-member trade mission includes 75 Kiwi companies covering a range of areas from dairy to education. After nine rounds of FTA talks, the latest held last month in Wellington, solid progress is being made on the architecture of the agreement, said the trade minister. Talks on the FTA started in November 2004. "Chapter texts are beginning to take shape in most areas. We are beginning to traverse the details of market access for goods and services and commitments in the area of investment," Goff said. The next round of talks is planned for January next year, he added. "Removal of a range of barriers in both countries would lead to an expansion in the trade of goods and services and increased investment flows," Goff said. "The opportunities after a high-quality FTA are exciting." China is the fourth biggest trading partner of New Zealand and its fourth largest export market. Trade between the two countries totaled NZ$5.6 billion (US$3.9 billion) last year, up 9 percent over a year ago. China had invested NZ$1.4 billion in New Zealand by 2005. During Goff's visit, Shanghai and Dunedin, the Kiwi sister city, signed a deal to build a Chinese traditional garden in Dunedin as a major tourist site. New Zealand-based National Dairy Association also opened a plant in Shanghai which makes steel fabrication for the dairy and drug industries in China, he said.