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Key heads to China for FTA upgrade

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/04/2016 Edwin Mitson

China's President Xi Jinping shakes hand with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key at bilateral talks in Wellington, November 20, 2014 © REUTERS/Ross Giblin/Pool China's President Xi Jinping shakes hand with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key at bilateral talks in Wellington, November 20, 2014 Prime Minister John Key is to visit China this month to discuss upgrading the free trade agreement between the two countries that was signed almost eight years ago.

Key will meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing but will also visit Xi'an and Shanghai. He said the FTA had been a success for both parties - "two-way trade between New Zealand and China has more than doubled, reaching almost $19 billion. An FTA upgrade would allow us to modernise the agreement and ensure it continues to drive our relationship forward."

Last month Key told the Platinum Primary Producers annual conference in Wellington that the renegotiation of the agreement was a "massive opportunity".

New Zealand is expected to focus on the removal of special safeguards that were put in place by China against New Zealand agricultural products, safeguards that were not included under the Australia-China free trade agreement which is a year old.

Under most favoured nation clauses in the NZ-China agreement, both countries are entitled to improve the terms of the agreement to the standards applied to subsequent agreements with other nations.

Key also said that NZ was keen to get access to China for chilled products. The Meat Industry Association has said gaining access for chilled meat exports would open up an "enormous" potential market for the country's $6.83 billion meat export industry.

Key's trip will also see him address students at Tsinghua University, meet Chinese business leaders and attend the launch of the New Zealand Film Festival in Shanghai.

He'll be accompanied by Trade Minister Todd McClay and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy for the visit, which takes place between April 17-22.

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