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China-New Zealand trade framework agreement signed

Newstalk ZB News, New Zealand

28 May 2004

Deal signed with China

China’s Commerce Minister has described the first formal step towards a Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand as a historic moment for his country.

Bo Xilai and New Zealand Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton have signed a Trade and Economic Co-operation Framework.

It precedes the start of negotiations towards an FTA, which Mr Bo says could be signed by as soon as next year.

He says China values its relationship with New Zealand highly, because this country was the first to recognise its market status, and the first to sign a bilateral agreement after China joined the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Bo says the move shows political courage.

Trade Minister Jim Sutton says his greatest challenge in free trade negotiations with China is to keep the New Zealand public on side.

Mr Sutton says it is a bold move for New Zealand, because it is our first venture into international trade liberalisation without the company of larger, like-minded nations.

The New Zealand Government says the fact China’s Commerce Minister came here especially to sign the agreement shows how seriously China takes the deal.