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Ambassador Comments on China Trade Deal

Associated Press

Ambassador Comments on China Trade Deal

1 September 2004

China would secure crucial supplies of natural resources under a proposed free trade agreement with New Zealand, the communist nation’s ambassador said Wednesday.

Chen Mingming said several issues must be resolved before an agreement can be reached, including the needs of farmers in China and New Zealand’s garment industry.

New Zealand and China signed an agreement in May to begin negotiations next year on a possible free trade pact.

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton has previously said that a free trade deal with China would be worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" to New Zealand, which exports farm and manufactured products and provides services which complement China’s needs.

A free trade pact would also sharply reduce Chinese tariffs, which currently range up to 38 percent on some New Zealand farm products.

China is already New Zealand’s fourth largest export market.

The South Pacific nation exported 1.5 billion New Zealand dollars (US$970 million; euro 807 million) of goods and more than NZ$1 billion (US$647 million; euro 538 million) in services to China in the year through June 2003. It imported NZ$2.7 billion (US$1.75 billion; euro 1.45 billion) of goods from China during the period.

Chen told delegates at the Gateway to China trade summit in Auckland that a trade deal would help China secure important natural resources. He didn’t elaborate.