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Update on the New Zealand-China FTA Upgrade


Negotiations to upgrade the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement are now in their second year and are focusing on concrete outcomes that will modernise the Agreement and address on-going barriers that are restricting or adding cost to New Zealand’s trade with China.

Across the nine mutually agreed areas for negotiation, MFAT is seeking a range of outcomes including:
•    New rules on e-commerce trade, environmental issues, competition policy and government procurement that will establish new trade commitments and cooperation in these areas.
•    Changes to the rules of origin and customs chapters to enhance transparency, speed up processing times at China ports, reflect the realities of trans-shipment arrangements between New Zealand and China, and enable traders to self-declare that exports are ‘New Zealand goods’ and eligible for tariff preference under the FTA.
•    Addressing a range of non-tariff measures relating to product standards that restrict or add cost to exports.
•    Expanding access for services exports under the FTA.

MFAT has also raised New Zealand’s interest in seeking the faster removal of tariffs and safeguards for dairy products (even though these will be eliminated in full by 2022/2024 under the terms of the existing FTA), and the elimination of more tariffs on wood and paper products. These remain challenging issues in the negotiation.

Sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) issues remain outside the scope of upgrade negotiations but continue to be progressed in parallel by the Ministry for Primary Industries and its China counterparts.         

The next (fifth) round of negotiations is expected to be held in Beijing in the coming weeks.

Make sure your priorities in China are considered

MFAT has welcomed the feedback received from business to date on specific issues it should be prioritising in the upgrade. Many of the requests New Zealand has made in negotiations reflect feedback received by individual businesses or export sectors. The opportunity to present new proposals in the upgrade will, however, soon draw to a close.  

If you have a regulatory issue or trade barrier that you think should be raised with China, please email MFAT at or call our exporter helpline (0800 824 605). Let us know if your feedback should be kept confidential. The following type of information is particularly useful:

•    Information about your business and interests in China.
•    What regulatory (non-tariff) barriers do you face in doing business in China?  How do these constrain your trading activities? Have they already been raised with China? What is the export/investment potential if these could be addressed?
•    Copies of any specific Chinese laws or regulations in question.
•    Existing contact with government agencies (MFAT, NZTE, MPI etc).
•    Beyond the upgrade, how can MFAT and other agencies assist you in China.

Please also let MFAT know if you would like to register your interest in upcoming public consultations or outreach events on the China FTA or any other trade negotiation. MFAT’s website has more information on the FTA and the upgrade process.

China FTA Upgrade team
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
July 2018