China, New Zealand ink trade deal as Beijing calls for reduced global barriers

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WELLINGTON: China and New Zealand signed a deal that upgrades their existing free trade pact on Tuesday (Jan 26), giving exports from the Pacific nation greater access to the world’s second-largest economy.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the signing of an expanded trade deal with China, noting its significance amid the pandemic.
The agreement comes as Beijing seeks to establish itself as a strong advocate of multilateralism following a bruising trade war with the United States and as the coronavirus keeps international borders closed.
“China remains one of our most important trade partners … For this to take place during the global economic crisis bought about by COVID-19 makes it particularly important,” Ardern said at a news conference.
The agreement expands an existing trade deal with China and ensures it remains fit for purpose for another decade, New Zealand trade minister Damien O’Connor said in a statement.
Under the new deal, tariffs for many of New Zealand’s mostly commodities-based exports, which include dairy, timber and seafood, will be either removed or cut. Compliance costs will also be reduced.
Following years of pressure from the Trump administration over trade and, more recently, international scrutiny over the handling of the coronavirus, China has emerged as a surprising champion of globalisation and multilateralism.
In recent months, Beijing signed an investment pact with the European Union and joined the world’s largest free trade bloc in the 15-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which also includes New Zealand. CNA
Source: Reuters/dv

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