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Trade

China, NZ pledge support for free trade to counter global protectionism

Two nations plan high-level discussions on topics including New Zealand’s hope that China will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 10:14pm

New Zealand and China will soon hold a series of high-level meetings and work to promote free trade, the countries’ governments said on Friday, amid growing concerns about US trade protectionism.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully met in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, on Friday, the day after Wang met the Pacific nation’s prime minister, Bill English.

“We were setting the scene for a range of high-level meetings and engagements,” McCully said on Friday.

He declined to say which leaders from the two countries were meeting or when they would meet.

However, he said the meetings would provide opportunities for investing in New Zealand.

“Other regions in the world in particular are starting to ask questions about the benefits of globalisation and free trade,” McCully said.

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“We are countries that have led the way in the [free trade] process and need to show leadership again in demonstrating ... the benefits of continuing down this path,” he added.

The pair discussed the upgrade of the nations’ bilateral free trade agreement, China’s possible involvement in what remains of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations and New Zealand’s role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy.

International focus has centred on China’s role as a steadying force in global affairs amid a turbulent start by new US President Donald Trump, whose first weeks in office have been marked by media feuds and protests.

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McCully said he told Wang that he would like to see China in the TPP and they agreed this should be discussed further.

New Zealand and Australia have said that they hope to salvage the TPP by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after Trump kept an election pledge to abandon the accord.

New Zealand and Australia have said that they hope to salvage the TPP by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after Trump kept an election pledge to abandon the accord.

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The two had agreed that New Zealand should ensure the government’s 30-year infrastructure plan matched China’s One Belt, One Road strategy where possible.

New Zealand was the first Western country to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2008. China is now New Zealand’s largest goods export partner, with New Zealand exports to China at NZ$12.2 billion (US$8.54 billion) in the year to June 2016.