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New Zealand, China to upgrade FTA in next month

New Zealand, China to upgrade FTA in next month

WELLINGTON: Negotiations for an “upgrade” to the New Zealand – China free trade agreement will begin next month – a step Prime Minister Bill English said would help boost trade to $30 billion.

The April 25 start date for talks was announced after a bilateral meeting between China’s Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Bill English on Li’s visit to Wellington.

English said New Zealand was hoping for better access for some exporters under a renegotiated deal. New Zealand has been pushing for an upgrade since Australia signed its free trade agreement in 2015 on better terms than New Zealand’s 2008 model.

After the meeting, Premier Li also strongly rejected any claims China was “dumping” steel in the New Zealand market.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is investigating claims of dumping – an investigation that has caused problems between New Zealand and China in the past.

Li said that 90 percent of Chinese steel was used domestically.

He acknowledged there was a global oversupply of steel and said China last year began scaling back production. He said exports of zinc-coated steel to New Zealand made up just five per cent of all steel New Zealand imported.

“Most of New Zealand’s steel imports come from other countries – not China. So, China is not dumping steel products in New Zealand.”