19 Apr 2016

PM quietly confident of China FTA upgrade

5:42 pm on 19 April 2016

An upgrade of the free trade agreement between New Zealand and China is being sought by Prime Minister John Key, as he meets with his Chinese counterpart.

NZ Prime Minister John Key in China

Prime Minister John Key is on a five-day official visit to China. Photo: AFP

Mr Key said he was quietly confident he would be able to convince Chinese leaders to start negotiations on the upgrade to the deal during a meeting in Beijing tonight.

More from the Prime Minister's visit to China

The trade deal with China was signed in 2008 and, while it has meant greater access for New Zealand commodities, there are still a number of trade barriers and safeguards in place.

Mr Key said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had acknowledged the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) needed to be reviewed, but he would seek to get a commitment from President Xi Jinping during tonight's meeting.

"In terms of a formal renegotiation, I think - that's of the FTA and the elimination of the safeguards - I think that's possible, but there is more work to be done.

"I will raise that with President Xi tonight. They can certainly understand our position, and understand our anxiety."

Last week, Mr Key said two-way trade with China was now worth nearly $19 billion, but it could be more.

Meanwhile, Mr Key said New Zealand could also consider setting up a formal extradition treaty with China.

There were up to 60 people living in New Zealand who China wanted to extradite for fraud and embezzlement, he said.

Earlier today, Mr Key met with Jack Ma, the founder of China's biggest online retailer Alibaba and the country's richest man, to make a deal to get more New Zealand goods to Chinese consumers.

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