Apr. 1 – Hong Kong and New Zealand signed a free-trade agreement on Monday, providing a framework for cooperation on a number of issues including the environment and labor issues as well as giving preferential treatment to companies in a range of service sectors.
The agreement, the first for Hong Kong outside of China, will see New Zealand scrap all import duties on Hong Kong goods by 2016.
The agreement is expected to pave the way for similar bilateral deals with other nations.
New Zealand hopes that the new agreement will foster growth in a number of key service sectors, specifically financial services.
The country’s regulatory framework, absence of corruption and its time zone offer it a “serious opportunity” in areas such as fund management, said New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser at the signing ceremony.
“This is also a new-generation closer economic partnership, one which does not have tariffs as its focus or ultimate goal,” he said. “It is instead an agreement which will support enduring business co-operation embedded between two open economies.”
New Zealand is now the first country to have signed free trade agreements with both Hong Kong and Mainland China, having signed an FTA with the mainland in 2008. It was the first developed country to sign a comprehensive FTA with China.
Under the New Zealand-China FTA, all goods exported from China to New Zealand will be tariff free from 2016, while tariffs on most New Zealand exports to China will be eliminated from 2019.
New Zealand’s trade with Hong Kong, which has been growing by 7.5 percent over the past five years, reached US$701.8 million in 2009. Bilateral trade between New Zealand and Mainland China reached US$6.9 billion in 2009.