New Zealand expects to upgrade FTA with China

By Hu Yongqi | | Updated: 2017-03-02 15:19

New Zealand Ambassador John McKinnon said his country is particularly interested in how free trade and climate change are reflected and discussed in the upcoming annual meeting of China's top legislature and political advisory body.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, McKinnon said he expects the two countries to upgrade the existing free trade agreement, which was signed and took effect in 2008 to boost bilateral trade. New Zealand was the first developed economy to sign such an agreement with China.

The annual meeting of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference will kick off later this week as one of China's most important political events.

The New Zealand-China relationship is very strong and is characterized as a comprehensive strategic partnership as announced by President Xi Jinping and former prime minister John Key in 2014, McKinnon said.

"One of the most important ways we've been building on the partnership is to look at how to upgrade the free trade agreement. Since then, there's been a huge growth in the trade between our two countries. And that is continuing and now we are reaching new areas such as services, e-commerce and many other such aspects of trade," he said.

On the two sessions, the ambassador said: "There are two areas that are particularly of interest to us. One is following on from President Xi's speech at Davos when he presented China's strong position on globalization, international trade and an open economy. These are things we very much welcome and we will be interested to see how they are reflected in Premier Li Keqiang's Government Work Report and also in the subsequent discussions at the congress."

He said the second area covers climate change. A few weeks ago, Zhang Yong, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission met with New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett in New Zealand during the first ministerial-level dialogue on climate change. "They discussed a number of areas of interest. That will be the focus of our follow-up discussions between officials and between our leaders," the ambassador said.

"Like many others, I am particularly interested to see how the National People's Congress responds to them."

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