Sunday, April 06, 2008


The free trade deal with China has been signed in Beijing today; It's estimated to be worth $300 million to NZ.

New Zealand has scored a significant coup in China, becoming the first western nation to sign a free trade deal with the world's fastest growing economy.

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the deal is much more comprehensive than anticipated when negotiations began three years ago.

The FTA comes into force in October and will conservatively be worth around $300 million to New Zealand and just $90 million to the Chinese.

It covers everything from agriculture to services, like tourism, education, construction and transport where New Zealand will compete on a level playing field. Free trade will be phased in over the next 12 years.

The Chinese Premier has without explanation pulled out of a scheduled news conference with Miss Clark. However it is expected he does not want to face questions on Tibet.

Miss Clark believes the deal with China will be used by other countries as an example of how far the Chinese are prepared to go.

"The Chinese have negotiated hard, as we have, but I think they will be seeing this as a template - they want a deal with other western economies. So this agreement has to be high quality, it has to be comprehensive and it has to be balanced."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is due to arrive in Beijing in a few days when trade deals are expected to be on the table. Next to sign?

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