Statement by Ambassador Li Chenggang at the Sixth Trade Policy Review of New Zealand
1 June 2022
Thank you, Chair.
I’d like to thank Ambassador Clare Kelly for leading the delegation of New Zealand to this trade policy review and appreciate the government of New Zealand for the preparation work. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Discussant, Ambassador Mr. Stephen Cornelius De Boer for his insightful comments and guiding questions. Many thanks also go to you, Chair, and the Secretariat for your valuable contribution to this Review.
Let me start by commending New Zealand for its continuing development achievements during the review period. As mentioned in the Secretariat report, the economy of New Zealand grew at an average annual rate of 3.4%, even with the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its exports and imports of goods and services.
China welcomes the continuous efforts of the New Zealand government in trade and investment liberalization. The Trade for All agenda and a set of reforms to simplify its foreign investment regime are very impressive. Apparently, New Zealand’s economic openness and international trade contribution play important roles in supporting its economic performance. This might be the most vivid illustration that openness instead of protectionism or unilateralism is the right path leading to prosperity.
On the multilateral front, China highly commends the firm commitments and continuous contribution of New Zealand to the rules-based multilateral trading system, especially in the most difficult situation, when the WTO is facing the biggest existential challenges since its establishment. In this regard, we want to express our sincere thanks for New Zealand’s leading role in this organization. Among them, I just name a few, such as the GC Chair, the DSB Chair and the Facilitator of WTO response to the pandemic.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand. Over the past half a century, New Zealand has been several “first” in China’s bilateral relationships with developed countries. It is the first developed country China signed the Free Trade Agreement with, and both sides witnessed the fast development in our bilateral trade relations. Bilateral economic and trade cooperation in 2021 exceeded pre-pandemic levels in all respects, with bilateral trade increasing by 36.4% year on year to USD24.72 billion. China continues to be New Zealand’s largest trading partner since 2015, accounting for nearly 30 percent of New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services.
On 7 April 2022, the Protocol on Upgrading the Free Trade Agreement between China and New Zealand came into effect. It further improves access to the Chinese market for New Zealand exporters and reflects the new trends in trade and business models between the two countries. New commitments made in the upgraded FTA further facilitate New Zealand’s exports to China and reduce compliance costs for New Zealand exporters. A range of non-tariff issues has been addressed, such as a six-hour limit on customs clearance of perishable goods and proper storage while pending release.
While recognizing that New Zealand launched a broad reform to simplify its foreign investment screening regime, we note that New Zealand has expanded the coverage of high-risk transactions and sensitive assets, which has in some way created uncertainties for normal business activities such as investment acquisition. We hope that New Zealand could ensure its foreign investment screening regime continues to be transparent, predictable, and non-discriminatory, so to give confidence to investors to invest in New Zealand.
Finally, we would like to once again thank the New Zealand delegation for their timely responses to our questions and wish this Review a complete success.
Thank you Chair.