New Zealand And China To Upgrade Free Trade Deal In New Round Of Negotiations
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's recent trip to China has reportedly resulted in positive bilateral deals between both countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping even called for the continued pursuit of "mutual trust" between both nations to gain "mutual benefits" in current and future deals. The New Zealand prime minister's trip to China is her first ever since she was elected in 2017.
The prime minister was welcomed by the Chinese president at the Great Hall of the People earlier this week, where she also met with Premier Li Keqiang. During their meeting, Xi had reportedly mentioned to the New Zealand prime minister how her country had always been the leading western country that had expressed its intention to establish a strong relationship with China.
The Chinese president was also quoted in saying how China and New Zealand have always been close friends and economic partners. In response, the prime minister expressed her country's willingness to further improve both their countries' ties and advance their economic relations.
During their discussion, Xi reportedly called on New Zealand to become one of its partners in its ambitious "Belt and Road Initiative" infrastructure project as well as on other measures pertaining to environmental preservation and sustainable developments in the South Pacific. Both leaders also reportedly discussed the possibility of upgrading the two countries' free-trade agreement. While the terms were not immediately ironed out, Arden mentioned that they are now planning to schedule another round of negotiations to finalize the free-trade agreement upgrades as soon as possible.
The current free-trade agreement between both nations, which was enacted in 2008, had resulted in a large boom in New Zealand's exports to China. In 2018, the two-way trade between both countries was estimated to have been worth more than US$19 billion; four times as much as when the agreement was first enacted. According to the data from New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, China is currently one of its largest trading partners.
Both China and New Zealand also discussed how they could improve the business and investment environments between both nations, underlying the current stance of New Zealand towards China's telecommunications expansion in western countries. During the same event, both leaders witnessed the signing of several agreements that included the suspension of double taxation and tax avoidance on imported and exported goods. Other agreements that were signed during the event included expanded business cooperation in different industries such as finance, science, agriculture, and technology.