China, NZ pledge sup­port for free trade

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD -

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.

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