New Zealand enterprises bullish on Chinese market on the back of upgraded FTA

China is now New Zealand's largest trade partner, accounting for nearly a quarter of New Zealand's total exports of goods and services to the rest of the world, according to data from Stats NZ.

In 2022, New Zealand exported 21.89 billion New Zealand dollars ($13.58 billion) worth of goods and services to China and registered 18.93 billion New Zealand dollars ($11.74 billion) worth of imports. Based on trade in total goods and services, China ranked first for export value, import value, and total trade value.

In 2018, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimated that the tradable sector produces 60 percent of GDP, and employs 50 percent of New Zealand's workforce. 630,000 New Zealanders are dependent on export sectors, that accounts for one in four New Zealanders' jobs. 

The upgraded free trade agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and China entered into force on April 7 last year.

Under the upgraded FTA, further tariff cuts on wood and paper products for the next 10 years ultimately gives 99 percent of New Zealand's $3 billion trade in this sector tariff-free access to China. Since the two countries signed their initial FTA in 2008, China had already eliminated or reduced tariffs on 75 wood and paper products.

China has also lifted duties on most of New Zealand's dairy products since the beginning of 2022.

Business figures from New Zealand enterprises including Fonterra, Zespri and Silver Fern shared the similar optimistic views on the bilateral trade's future, and said they will remain committed to investment and nurturing consumers in China in the long run.

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