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China, New Zealand agree to upgrade FTA


03-28-2017 07:58 BJT

Full coverage: Premier Li Visits Australia, New Zealand

(Source: CGTN)

During Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's ongoing visit to New Zealand, trade topped the agenda on the leaders' talks on Monday. Specifically, it was agreed that talks on upgrading a 2008 free trade agreement would begin next month.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and his New Zealand

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and his New Zealand's counterpart Bill English attend a joint press conference after talks in Wellington, New Zealand, March 27, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Tao)

Premier Li and his wife received a traditional Maori welcome in the ground of Government House.
The welcome symbolises the strong cultural ties between China and New Zealand. And out on the streets of Wellington, Chinese residents were also making their voices heard.

The main business of the day was a bilateral meeting between trade, followed by a joint ministerial signing of new arrangements for economic and environmental co-operation.

The main announcement was the start of official negotiations next month on upgrading the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

"Our two-way trade has - since 2008 - nearly tripled to twenty-three billion dollars, creating jobs and opportunities for people in both countries. The upgrade will allow us to modernise the FTA to take account of changes in our economic relationship since the FTA came into force," New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said.

Premier Li says the new agreement will send a positive signal to the world and the region that our two countries are committed to free trade.

"In the context of a backlash against globalisation and free trade, we believe that by strengthening free trade we will have more consultations and avoid frictions, and this is conducive to world peace and regional stability," Li said

A former New Zealand trade negotiator hopes the Belt and Road leads to more free trade agreements along the old Silk Road.

"There's a lot New Zealand can work with China on. I'd personally like to see it more than just about infrastructure. I'd like to see a free trade agreement among all those countries - including New Zealand," Former trade negotiator Charles Finny said.

Premier Li will spend the night in Auckland before another round of mostly business engagements tomorrow.

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