by | Apr 24, 2017 | Trade Working Blog


Three cheers for China!  As much of the world appears to be turning its back on openness, The Economist recently reported that the use of the word “quanqiuhua (全球化) globalisation – is on the rise in official speeches.  Meanwhile New Zealand and China are about to commence the first round of negotiations towards “Zimao Xieding shengji” or FTA upgrade.

New Zealand’s FTA with China – the first for a developed economy – has served us well since entry into force in 2008. Much of the astonishing trade growth in that period has been due to significant increases in exports of traditional commodities – milk powder, logs and lamb.   But more and more kiwi companies are now targeting China, often through new channels such as e-commerce, and other parties including our Aussie mates have negotiated their own FTAs. So, our FTA needs to be brought up to date.

The agreement to upgrade the FTA was reached last November, but the recent visit of Premier Li Keqiang was the occasion for the two governments to announce the start of negotiations. High level political support and momentum are always vital, but, as the devil in the detail comes to the fore, this is unlikely to prove an easy ride.

 New Zealand exporters have a long wish-list. An end to dairy safeguards – the increased tariffs that spring back once trade reaches a certain volume, and which mean that New Zealand gains the full benefit of the FTA for just a few weeks a year. Better pathways to access for avocados, blueberries, apricots, onions and capsicums and more secure access for kiwifruit, pipfruit and persimmons. Elimination of tariffs on wood and paper products, which was not achieved in the FTA. More even application of import certification requirements in Chinese ports, including for transshipped goods. Access for chilled meat – a big breakthrough – was dealt with during the Chinese Premier’s visit.

What the Chinese might want is less clear. New Zealand has already signed up for co-operation under the “Belt and Road” initiative. But what about an increase in the investment thresholds applying under the Overseas Investment Act? China will receive this anyway once the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) enters into force due to the “most favoured nation” clause in the existing FTA.   Better pathways for its own products through New Zealand’s understandably complex biosecurity arrangements? Understandings around immigration?

This is the substance of the negotiation which is to get underway on 25 April. Because this upgrade will set the terms of the trade relationship for the decade to come, negotiators on both sides will need to think about how business might develop in the future. Getting the settings right about e-commerce, services and digital trade will need to be included.

But the bigger picture is also important. Zimao xieding shengji will also demonstrate that China and New Zealand can walk the talk when it comes to openness and trade.

This post was prepared by Stephen Jacobi, NZIBF Executive Director.


Register to stay up to date with latest news, as well as saving and discussing articles you’re interested in.

Latest News


Perhaps a cyclone was after all a fitting backdrop for the meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) which was held in Auckland on 12-14 February – the global environment against which the meeting took place is decidedly stormy.  In the event the wind...


As I write this end of year dispatch, NZIBF is preparing to host the first meeting for 2023 of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).  We are looking forward to welcoming the 200 or so business leaders and senior officials from APEC member economies across the...

NZ Herald: Time to lift our game in India

Following his recent visit to India our Executive Director Stephen Jacobi penned this article advocating a more strategic approach to the further development of the relationship. The article was published by the NZ Herald on 9 December.

APEC Rolls out Priorities for 2023

Issued by the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting - Honolulu, The United States, 13 December 2022 Aiming to provide tailwinds for member economies to strengthen recovery and resilience, as well as advance broad-based economic growth, the United States rolled out its...

NZIBF 2022 Chair Report

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2022 CHAIR’S REPORT I am pleased to present my second report on the activities and achievements of the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) for 2022-23, our fifteenth year of operations.  At the outset I would like to thank Members for...


New Zealand business will be represented at the APEC Leaders’ Week in Bangkok, commencing 13 November, by members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). New Zealand’s three members – Rachel Taulelei, Malcolm Johns and Anna Curzon – supported by Stephen Jacobi...

Submission to MFAT for CPTPP Review

30 September 2022 Phil Mellor Economic Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington (By email) Dear Phil, Thank you for your email of 1 September, seeking our comments on the three year review of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans...