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. The free trade agreement is a success story for both countries. It has opened up significant trade and economic opportunities and has been a catalyst for closer cooperation across a number of areas.
New Zealand goods exports to China have quadrupled since the free trade agreement was signed and entered into force in 2008. China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at over NZ$37 billion in 2021. China is also New Zealand’s second largest and fastest growing tourism market, largest source of international students, and a significant source of foreign investment.
On 7 April 2022, the Upgrade to the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement entered into force. The Upgrade amended the 2008 FTA to align it with the latest trade policies, and business practices in areas of e-commerce, government procurement, environment and trade, and competition. It also eliminated further tariffs and reduced compliance measures for exporters. See more on the upgraded FTA at China FTA Upgrade 2022.
Highlights of the free trade agreement include:
- Tariffs are eliminated for over 98% of New Zealand goods exports to China. In 2021, all exports other than dairy (some products remain subject to tariffs and safeguards that will be phased out by 2024), and a small number of products that were excluded from the FTA are eligible for tariff-free access into China.
- Better access to high quality Chinese goods for New Zealand businesses and consumers. In 2021, all imports from China are eligible for tariff-free access.
- Improved access to Chinese markets for New Zealand service providers, including future-proofing rules that ensure service exporters in some sectors benefit from any improved access that China grants to other FTA partners.
- Faster and easier temporary entry to China for business people through improved visa processing.
- Greater cooperation in areas such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.
- A clear process for settling disputes related to the FTA.
- Dedicated chapters on trade and environment and e-commerce, that provide for more effective discussion and cooperation.
- Reduced red tape, including an easier and less costly route for New Zealand exporters of certain electrical and electronic equipment products to comply with Chinese certification requirements.
The CEP preserves the New Zealand Government’s inherent right to regulate in the public interest and contains specific protections in a range of policy areas, including for the Treaty of Waitangi.
As with all of New Zealand’s contemporary trade agreements since 2001, the CEP includes a specific provision preserving the pre-eminence of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand.
Nothing in the CEP prevents the Crown from meeting its obligations to Māori and New Zealand’s interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi will not be subject to dispute settlement.
Share your views
If you have an interest in the FTA, including any questions or feedback, we welcome you to submit this at any time by email or post:
Post: China FTA Coordinator
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Private Bag 18-901 Wellington