"Good progress" has been made in the negotiation process between New Zealand and China on establishing the Free Trade Area (FTA), said New Zealand Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton in Beijing Tuesday.
China and New Zealand started FTA talks on December 6, 2004. The third-round talks were held from May 18 to May 20 in New Zealand, during which the two sides held discussions on trade, service and investment issues. The next round of talks would be held in Beijing in July this year.
Sutton told the press that during the past three rounds of negotiations, New Zealand and China have made progress in "understanding each other's positions, identifying each other's priorities and identifying areas of potential sensitivity."
The "strong bilateral relations" between New Zealand and the economic complementarity between the two sides provide sound basis for the establishment of a "high-quality" FTA, the minister said.
Sutton said New Zealand has accomplished "three firsts" in its relations with China in recent years: it is the first developed country to conclude a bilateral market access agreement with China for its entry to the World Trade Organization; the first to recognize China's status as a market economy and the first country to enter FTA negotiations with China.
"New Zealand would like to become the first developed country to complete the FTA negotiation with China," he noted.
Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai and Sutton held the first meeting of the China-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Commission Monday afternoon, agreeing to build a free trade area as soon as possible.
Sutton arrived here Saturday on a seven-day visit to China. Besides Beijing, the minister and his entourage from more than 20 New Zealand's leading dairy and agri-tech companies will also visit some of China's most important dairy farming regions, including north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
New Zealand is willing to explore the opportunities for cooperation with Chinese dairy industries, especially in the production, processing and agricultural services sectors, Sutton said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 8, 2005)