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New Zealand, China to sign FTA in early April
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11:05, February 26, 2008

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With outstanding technical requirements and processes for the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on track for completion, planning is now underway for a program of activities centered around the signing ceremony, Trade Minister Phil Goff announced on Tuesday.

"Finalizing this FTA will be a significant achievement for New Zealand. We must make sure we take full advantage of the opportunities it will open up in China," Goff said in a press release.

"Being the first developed country to negotiate a comprehensive FTA with China will present New Zealand with a unique platform for profiling our businesses in China and for strengthening existing commercial relationships," he added.

"Neither the New Zealand nor Chinese governments are in a position to formally approve the text for signature until all the technical issues have been dealt with. However, planning is now underway for a program of activities, beginning with a New Zealand business delegation, centered around the signing ceremony and FTA-related events, planned to take place in Beijing from April 6-9," Goff said.

"This FTA has been negotiated with the overriding objective of opening up economic opportunities for New Zealand business in China and to boost commercial ties with our now third largest trading partner."

"We think it is important that the New Zealand business community have the opportunity to join with ministers and officials in Beijing to be a part of this historic event. We hope that members of the business community with important commercial links with China will be able to join us for this milestone event," he said.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) was seeking expressions of interest from businesses who were interested in being part of the events and activities planned to take place in Beijing on April 6-9.

On Monday, Prime Minister Helen Clark told a press conference that she will travel to Beijing in April for the signing ceremony. She will be accompanied by a trade delegation.

The FTA agreement with China will be the largest for New Zealand since the Closer Economic Agreement with Australia was signed in 1983. Clark said it will be the first time China has entered into a trade agreement with a developed country.

Source: Xinhua

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