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China, NZ to sign FTA in April PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 February 2008

Agence France-Presse . Beijing

The Chinese government said Tuesday that it would sign a free trade agreement with New Zealand in early April, marking the Asian giant's first free trade package to be reached with a developed country.

'The free trade agreement will be signed in early April when prime minister Clark visits China,' a commerce ministry official who was involved in the bilateral negotiations told AFP.

'The whole package will see both sides further open their markets,' said the official, who declined to be named. He said the agreement, which covers trade in both goods and services, should get approval from the New Zealand cabinet and China's State Council.

Once signed, the agreement will become the first free trade agreement China has ever sealed with a developed country, he added. The two countries launched negotiations on the deal in November 2004 and have gone through 15 rounds of talks, with the last being held in December.

New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark previously identified New Zealand's dairy exports as a sticking point in the talks. In 2007, bilateral trade reached 3.7 billion dollars, up 26 per cent from a year earlier, with Chinese exports to New Zealand rising 33.4 per cent to 2.2 billion dollars, according to official Chinese figures.

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