Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land management practices has passed a milestone, with more than 170 catchment groups nationwide now receiving support, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
The signing took place in the virtual setting with Trade Minister Damien O’Connor in Wellington and China’s Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao, participating from Beijing.
O’Connor says the signing modernises the existing free trade agreement (FTA) and ensures it will remain fit for purpose for another decade.
He says the upgraded agreement comes at a time of considerable global economic disruption due to Covid-19.
“China is one of New Zealand’s most important relationships. Signing this agreement builds on the significant benefits both countries have enjoyed as a result of our existing FTA,” says O’Connor.
He says the key outcomes of the upgrade include new rules that will make exporting to China easier and reduce compliance costs for New Zealand exports, and achieve a better deal for our services exporters through expanded market access and most-favoured nation commitments.
“Our agreement is modern and deepens our relationship further to ensure that NZ exporters have the best possible access to the China market,” he says.
O’Connor says existing conditions for dairy exports have been maintained, with all safeguard tariffs to be eliminated within one year for most products, and three years for milk powder.
“This means that by 1 January, 2024, all New Zealand dairy exports to China will be tariff free,” he says.
Dairy Companies Association (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey has welcomed the signing, saying it’s a good effort on the part of past and previous governments to get the FTA upgraded. Unfortunately he says it just preserves the status quo in terms of dairy exports to China. He says they were hoping that the so-called safeguards or longer term tariffs might have been removed.