China-New Zealand FTA upgrade worth thousands of jobs: minister

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The New Zealand government has agreed a negotiating mandate to upgrade the Free Trade Agreement with China that "will deliver thousands of jobs and be worth billions to our economy," Trade Minister Todd McClay said on Thursday.

"China is a significant trading partner. Our FTA with China has helped New Zealand companies stay in business during the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) and keeps Kiwis in jobs," the minister said in a statement.

"We currently have 24 billion NZ dollars (17.3 billion U.S. dollars) of two-way trade with this large economy and impressive growth in education, tourism and goods exports," McClay said.

"Trade means jobs," he said, adding that 8,500 jobs are created in New Zealand from every billion dollars of exports.

New Zealand and China have been engaged in renewed talks to upgrade an existing FTA signed on 2008 in a bid to further boost the two-way trade between the two countries.

Upgrading the FTA with China will increase trade and deliver more jobs in every region and every city of the country, McClay said, adding that the upgrade priorities for the government include a better deal for dairy, forestry and wood processing exporters, new rules to enhance online and digital trade and better measures to deal with non-tariff barriers.

"We want to free up access and continue to level the playing field for Kiwi exporters," he said, adding that New Zealand has set a joint target of 30 billion NZ dollars (21.6 billion U.S. dollars) of two-way trade with China by 2020.

"The upgrade will make it easier for us to hit this significant target. We are committed to delivering for New Zealanders," said the minister.

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