Key elements discussed in the free trade agreement upgrade negotiations include customs procedures and trade facilitation, electronic commerce, services, and more.

Our free trade agreement with China has been a success for both countries, with two-way trade (goods and services) more than tripling from $8 billion to over $28 billion since the free trade agreement was signed in 2008. China is now our largest trading partner, and an important export education and tourism partner.

We are negotiating the upgrade of our free trade agreement to modernise it, further reduce barriers impacting exports, and boost trade.

Areas covered by the upgrade negotiations

The negotiations seek to improve upon the existing commitments in our free trade agreement, as well as add new areas not previously covered by the 2008 Agreement.  There are nine mutually-agreed areas for negotiation, as detailed in the Joint Statement agreed by Ministers when the negotiations were launched in November 2016. These nine areas are:

  • Technical barriers to trade (TBT)
  • Customs procedures, cooperation and trade facilitation
  • Rules of origin (RoO)
  • Services
  • Competition policy
  • E-commerce
  • Agricultural cooperation
  • Environment
  • Government procurement

The Joint Statement also made provision for both sides to raise other issues important to them. However, it was agreed that sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) issues would remain outside the scope of upgrade negotiations. These issues continue to be progressed by the Ministry for Primary Industries and its China counterparts.

What we are seeking

The China free trade agreement upgrade negotiations are an opportunity to ensure our agreement remains leading edge and delivers the best deal for our exporters. Our objectives in the negotiations include:

  • Ensuring the FTA reflects the latest developments in China's trade policy in the last 10 years. This includes addressing new issues like e-commerce, and putting an increased focus on environmental issues.
  • Getting a better deal for our services exporters. In recent years China has progressively opened up its services economy, including by guaranteeing other countries the best possible access in key sectors like export education, or by making additional commitments in new services sectors not covered in our original FTA. We want the upgrade to reflect these commitments and go further, creating new opportunities for New Zealand service suppliers in the China market.
  • Further reducing tariff rates under the FTA; in particular, improving tariff outcomes for sectors previously not covered in the FTA.
  • Addressing regulatory and other compliance requirements that New Zealand exporters have identified as adding cost or restricting trade with China. This includes reducing some of the red tape under the existing agreement; and addressing a range of non-tariff measures relating to product standards.  
  • Establishing new channels for dialogue and policy cooperation with China. This will allow us to address trade and economic matters important to both sides, now and into the future.