China, NZ pledge support for free trade
China and New Zealand will soon hold a series of high-level meetings and work to promote free trade, the two countries’ governments said Friday, amid growing concerns about trade protectionism.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully met in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, on Friday, a day after Wang met the Pacific nation’s Prime Minister Bill English.
“We were setting the scene for a range of high-level meetings and engagements,” McCully said. He declined to say which leaders from the two countries were meeting or when they would meet. However, he said the meetings would provide opportunities for investing in New Zealand.
“Other regions in the world in particular are starting to ask questions about the benefits of globalization and free trade,” McCully said.
“We are countries that have led the way in the [ free trade] process and need to show leadership again in demonstrating ... the benefits of continuing down this path,” he noted.
The pair discussed the upgrade of the nations’ bilateral free trade agreement, China’s possible involvement in what remains of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and New Zealand’s role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
Wang said he welcomes New Zealand to participate in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, by which Beijing has pledged to build a new Silk Road connecting China to Asia, Europe and beyond.
International focus has centered on China’s role as a steadying force in global affairs amid a turbulent start by new US President Donald Trump, whose first weeks in office have been marked by media feuds and protests.
Wang invited New Zealand to attend China’s “One Belt, One Road” summit in May and McCully said a government minister, yet to be announced, would attend.
The two had agreed New Zealand should ensure the government’s 30-year infrastructure plan matched China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative where possible.
McCully said cooperation between the two countries on tourism, education, economy and trade have become increasingly closer.
2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties of the two countries.
New Zealand was the first Western country to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2008 and China is now New Zealand’s largest goods export partner.