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New Zealand foresees benefits in China FTA upgrade

By:Xinhua   Update:2016-11-22
WELLINGTON, Nov. 22 -- New Zealand's primary producers Tuesday welcomed the announcement that the country is to upgrade its free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
The two governments announced at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru that negotiations to upgrade the bilateral FTA would begin in the first half of next year.
Farmer-owned cooperative Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, said the announcement was an opportunity to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
"We are committed to continuing to build our business in China and the FTA will remain the key platform for that growth," Fonterra chairman John Wilson said.
Fonterra had substantial investments on the ground in China, including two farming hubs, and employed more than 1,500 people in China, he said.
China was New Zealand's largest dairy export market with 2.7 billion NZ dollars (1.91 billion U.S. dollars) worth of trade in 2015.
Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the review of the eight-year-old agreement should enhance tariff removal and elimination, particularly on primary sector products such as dairy.
"One of the keys to the success of this agreement has been the determination by our negotiators to focus on non-tariff trade barriers, which can often be as costly as tariffs," Rolleston said in a statement.
The forestry industry was also anticipating more timber exports to China, and more employment in New Zealand, chair of the New Zealand Wood Council Brian Stanley said in a statement.
Forest products were New Zealand's second most important export to China at 1.8 billion NZ dollar (1.27 billion U.S. dollars) a year.
Stanley said the New Zealand industry would like to see the China FTA result in more production and work for processors in New Zealand.
"At the moment China takes more than two-thirds of our log exports, but it lags behind the United States, Australia and Japan for importing processed timber from New Zealand, such as sawn timber, panels and paper," he said.

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