In a world first for any developed country, New Zealand entered into a free trade agreement with China in 2008, and with it came a unique competitive advantage.

Today China has the world’s largest economy and its massive population and growing middle class present huge potential for our exporters. The FTA created mutually beneficial concessions in the trade of goods and services, and investment. It has broadened and deepened the relationship between our countries, has raised New Zealand’s commercial profile in China, and exceeded expectations for the trading relationship.

Between 2009 and 2014, total goods trade between New Zealand and China doubled to NZ$20 billion. New Zealand goods exports to China grew 50% in the year ended June 2014.

We have traded more with China since the FTA entered into force in 2008 than in all our previous history, and growth is faster with China than any of our other major trading partners. The growth in New Zealand’s total global exports since 2008 is largely because of the growth in our exports to China.

Facts and figures

China population: 1.4 billion (2014)

China GDP: US$10.4 trillion (2014)

GDP per capita: US$7,589 (2014)

Timeline: Negotiations began in 2004,agreement signed April 2008 and came into effect October 2008

New Zealand’s major goods exports to China:  milk powder, butter, and cheese; wood and wood products; meat

New Zealand’s major services exports to China: tourism, education, transportation services

New Zealand’s major imports from China: electronics, clothing, furniture and toys

For more statistics about New Zealand’s trade with China, see the Statistics New Zealand fact sheet (external link).

 Agreement highlights

  • Better market access to China for New Zealand trade, service and investment businesses.
  • Duty free access for 96% of the categories of goods New Zealand exports to China. This represented about $115.5 million in annual saving to exporters at the time of signing. In 2012, the saving was estimated at $250 million.
  • Future-proofing rules under our most favoured nation status that ensure service suppliers in some sectors will benefit from any improved access that China grants to other FTA partners in the future.
  • Faster and easier temporary entry to China for business people through improved visa processing.
  • Greater cooperation in the areas of customs, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and intellectual property.
  • Improved security of investments in China, as well as a provision to ensure that New Zealand investors remain competitive with investors from other countries.
  • A clear process for settling disputes.
  • New Zealand will phase out all tariffs on products originating from China by 2016.

Labour and Environment

As part of the FTA negotiations, New Zealand and China signed the Environment Cooperation Agreement and the Labour Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which provide a forum for both countries to work together in a practical way to promote sound labour and environment policies and practices.

Read the Environment Cooperation Agreement [PDF, 206 KB]

Read the Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation [PDF, 210 KB]

Using the FTA

Businesses trading in goods

Use the Tariff Finder (external link) to find out:

  1. the tariff classification for the good
  2. the tariff commitments
  3. the Rules of Origin (ROO)
  4. how to get a Certificate of Origin

Read the Customs fact sheets for the China FTA:

Fact Sheet #37 Rules of Origin for China (external link)

Fact sheet #38 Exporting to China (external link)

Service sector businesses

Use Annex 8 of the FTA to find out:

  1. how your service is classified
  2. if there are limits on national treatment or market access for your service
  3. if there are any additional commitments for your service

FTA Annex 8, Schedules of Specific Commitments on Services: China [PDF, 283 KB] New Zealand [PDF, 186 KB]

Read an overview of what the FTA means for services in Chapter 9 of the MFAT Guide to the Agreement [PDF, 185 KB]


Use the MFAT Guide to the Agreement [PDF, 172 KB]  and Chapter 11 of the FTA [PDF, 173 KB]  to find out how the FTA helps investors.

Media and Resources

Full text of NZ China FTA 

Environment Cooperation Agreement

Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation

MFAT Guide to the NZ China FTA [PDF, 913 KB] 

NZ China FTA National Interest Analysis [PDF, 327 KB] 

2004 Joint Study Report on a Free Trade Agreement between China and New Zealand [PDF, 490 KB]

Tariff schedules in HS2012

Tariff schedule HS2012 - New Zealand [PDF, 4.3 MB]

Tariff schedule HS2012 - China [PDF, 7.6 MB]