Landmark Trade Deal Struck By China, New Zealand
HONG KONG -
In the free-trade Olympics, China has scored its first major individual gold medal.
Seeking to catch up with the U.S. in forming its own club of bilateral trade partners, China on Monday inked a pact with New Zealand that is its first comprehensive free-trade deal, encompassing trade, services and investment, and the first it has reached with a developed country.
Three years in the making and coming after 15 rounds of negotiations, the landmark agreement was signed in a ceremony in Beijing that was attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Clark, whose public approval rating has been flagging, has faced criticism over the timing of the deal, which comes fresh on the heels of China’s crackdown on protests by Buddhist monks in Tibet.
New Zealand pledged to eliminate all tariffs on Chinese goods by 2016. It already imposes no tariffs on 95.5% of its imports, but the exceptions include such big Chinese exports as clothing, textiles and shoes.