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Progress made towards New Zealand-Asia FTA: minister

Xinhua, China

Progress made towards New Zealand-Asia FTA: minister

25 August 2009

WELLINGTON, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — Recent talks made progress toward a free trade agreement with Asian countries, Trade Minister Tim Groser told Parliament on Tuesday.

Earlier in the month, Groser visited Bangkok for talks, the New Zealand Press Association reported.

Groser said he and trade ministers from Australia, South-east Asia, Japan, South Korea and China agreed to recommend their governments to go ahead with a study to look at a free-trade agreement.

"If that recommendation is endorsed by East Asia Summit leaders in October, it will be a considerable strategic advancement for Australia and New Zealand," Groser said.

"If endorsed by leaders, these recommendations, or the formal study of the concept of a free-trade agreement, will ensure that Australia and New Zealand are now definitively part of the Asian economic regional integration process," he added.

"Asia accounts for over half of New Zealand’s exports, at some 21 billion NZ dollars (14.3 billion U.S. dollars), and offers some very exciting long-term opportunities," he added.