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China looks to broaden free trade agreement with New Zealand

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China aims to expand an existing free trade agreement with New Zealand, Premier Li Keqiang told Prime Minister John Key during a meeting in Beijing, state media said on Tuesday.

[BEIJING] China aims to expand an existing free trade agreement with New Zealand, Premier Li Keqiang told Prime Minister John Key during a meeting in Beijing, state media said on Tuesday.

New Zealand was the first OECD country to sign a free trade agreement with China, in 2008, and China became New Zealand's largest export market in 2014. "China will work to expand trade within the framework of the FTA and create conditions on broadening the agreement," the official China Daily paraphrased Mr Li as telling Mr Key.

China will also expand cooperation overall with New Zealand, in areas such as agriculture and food safety, Mr Li added.

The report quoted Mr Key as saying he will also work to upgrade the free trade agreement. The newspaper gave no further details.

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The move comes as New Zealand and 11 other advanced economies accounting for 40 per cent of the global economy have signed the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to which China is not a party.

Beijing has been keen to shore up bilateral trade deals and promote the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the face of TPP, concerned by Washington's effort to reshape and liberalise Asia's trade rules.

Though the TPP faces opposition in the US Congress, China could lose some ground to manufacturing competitors such as Vietnam if the deal goes into force, as it would expand duty-free access among members.

REUTERS

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