On 7 April 2008, New Zealand and China signed a comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement. It was the first bilateral FTA that Beijing signed with a so-called developed country. It entered into force on 1 October 2008.
The NZ-China FTA has raised a number of concerns among New Zealanders, especially relating to:
weak food safety and environmental standards behind China’s agricultural exports to NZ, which are bound to multiply because of the deal;
the labour conditions and lack of rights that Chinese workers are subject to, which the FTA does not address;
China’s broader human rights record, including the repression in Tibet;
the ability of Chinese corporations to now sue the New Zealand government if it were to restrict, in any way, Chinese trade or investment on grounds relating to labour rights, environmental standards or health concerns; and
the inability of New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable producers to compete with the influx of Chinese imports, given the lower wages in their production costs.
A number of New Zealand business groups eager to expand operations in China were happy with the deal, of course. One of these was Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest company and the third largest dairy exporter on the planet. Fonterra took advantage of the agreement to buy up Chinese dairy companies and further build its business in the mainland. But when the melamine milk scandal broke in September 2008 and the public learned that Fonterra — which owned 43% of Sanlu, the first Chinese company linked to the milk — knew of the contamination months before but never said anything, the recriminations came pouring in. (More than 300,000 people fell ill and six infants died of kidney failure as a result of the contamination. And by the end of 2008, Sanlu went bankrupt.)
last update: May 2012
The Greens are citing past experience as a warning against the upcoming free trade deal with China.
China is holding off giving final approval for a free-trade pact with New Zealand.
The moral high ground is always easier to occupy when falling from it poses little danger of sustaining serious damage. So it required little courage for MP Keith Locke, the Green Party’s indefatigable foreign affairs spokesperson, to put pressure on the Government to take a stronger stand against the Chinese authorities’ crackdown on protesters in Tibet.
Winston Peters wants some assurances on how a free trade agreement with China will benefit this country before he is prepared to support the deal to be signed next month by Prime Minister Helen Clark.
New Zealand has succeeded in gaining "most favoured nation" status from China in the negotiations for the upcoming bilateral free trade deal.
The National Party is taking a bi-partisan approach to the Free Trade Agreement with China which will be signed next month, and in return it is going to get a piece of the action in Beijing.
We can’t separate the oppression of the Tibetan people from the preferential trade agreement New Zealand is about to sign with China.
Human rights activists will take to the footpath outside Helen Clark’s Auckland office on Wednesday to protest against a free-trade deal with China.
Chinese repression of Tibetan dissidents has pushed the issue of the impending Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Peoples Republic of China back into the news. In a diplomatic sidestep both Helen Clark and John Key claim that events in Tibet have nothing to do with free trade. Perhaps that is true, but there are other issues to consider.
Violent protests in Tibet have come at a very awkward time for the New Zealand government with Prime Minister Helen Clark about to sign a free trade deal with China. While other government’s around the world were quick to condemn China’s violent response to Tibetan protests, Clark was hesitant for most of Monday, saying she did not have enough information.