New Zealand and China have agreed to start implementing their upgraded free trade deal this April, a New Zealander official said on Tuesday.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor said the agreement to put the deal into force on April 7 came last week in a virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao.

“This Upgrade is a significant step for us and forms part of a body of work we’re doing to drive our economic recovery from COVID,” said O’Connor in a statement.

He added: “Our trade agenda has very good momentum, with our primary industry exports forecast to hit a record $50 billion this year alone.”

Under the upgraded free trade agreement (FTA), New Zealand will have secured the elimination of tariffs on 12 wood and paper products for the next 10 years, ultimately giving 99% of New Zealand’s $3 billion trade in this sector tariff-free access to China.

Since the two countries signed their initial FTA in 2008, Beijing had eliminated or reduced tariffs on 75 wood and paper products for New Zealand.

“Goods and services exports between China and New Zealand reached $20.1 billion in the year ending June 2021. New Zealand businesses will benefit from up-to-date rules underpinning our trade. This Upgrade modernises the original 2008 New Zealand-China FTA to ensure it remains fit for purpose,” said O’Connor.

Since the beginning of this year, China also lifted duties on most of New Zealand’s dairy products.

Trade Minister O’Connor also said talks with the UK were on track to conclude, removing tariffs for New Zealander export, while free trade negotiations with the EU are also underway.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to US

In a separate statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also announced plans for a trade-focused visit to the US in May.

“New Zealand is in demand internationally. A priority for our international engagement is to focus on trade opportunities that accelerate our recovery; raise New Zealand’s profile in key export markets,” Ardern said in a statement.

The premier is also scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Harvard University’s graduation ceremony that month.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.