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China FTA bill passes final reading

Thursday, 24 July 2008 | Press Release: New Zealand Government

China FTA Bill Passes Final Reading

China Free Trade Agreement Bill passes third and final reading

Trade Minister Phil Goff says the passing in Parliament today of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Bill will bring the FTA into force on 1 October and represents an historic advance in New Zealand’s trading relationships.

The Bill was passed by 104 votes to 17.

Speaking from Geneva, where he is taking part in World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Development Round trade negotiations, Mr Goff said the FTA will come into force when Royal assent has been granted by the Governor-General and the relevant regulations promulgated.

“Being the first developed country to sign an FTA with China will bring major benefits for New Zealand exporters doing business with that country, which is our 4th largest and one of our fastest growing trading partner,” Phil Goff said.

“The benefits will start immediately. Initial tariff cuts will take place on October 1, resulting in the immediate elimination of tariffs on over $200 million worth of current New Zealand exports to China.

“By 2017, tariffs on 96 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to China, which currently cost exporters $120 million a year, will be phased out, giving our companies a unique competitive advantage in the fastest growing economy in the world. Our exports to China, currently at more than $2 billion a year, are estimated to grow by between $230-350 million a year faster than they would have without an FTA. That means a better standard of living and more jobs for New Zealanders.

“As a nation which depends on our ability to trade and invest in the world market, the agreement has great strategic importance for New Zealand. It strengthens our economic integration in the Asia Pacific and importantly also comes at a time of slowing economic growth in other parts of the world.

“The Agreement also addresses wider concerns. With regard to human rights, experience shows that engagement with countries speeds up the process of reform and change, while isolation slows that process.

“On labour and the environment, legally binding agreements will enhance communication and cooperation and help raise labour standards and improving environmental protection in both countries.

“The level of interest in the FTA shown by our businesses and industry groups has been exceptional. New Zealand exporters, which provide many hundreds of thousands of jobs, were overwhelmingly positive.

“There was also full attendance at a series of roadshow events around the country explaining the FTA, and the all-of-government Website has received more than 264,000 hits since going live in April.

“Once the FTA comes into force businesses and government will continue to work together to ensure we take full advantage of the opportunities presented by increased engagement with the world’s fastest growing economy,” Phil Goff said

The passing of the Bill amends the Tariff Act 1988, Customs and Excise Act 1996, Fair Trading Act 1986, Electricity Act 1992, Radiocommunications Act 1989.

Other administrative steps before the FTA can come into force on October 1:

- July 28, authorisation in Executive Council of amendments to Electricity Regulations 1997 and Customs and Excise Regulations 1996;
- July 31, gazetting the amendments;
- August 1, an exchange of diplomatic notes between New Zealand and China advising completion of domestic legal processes.

 source: Scoop