New Zealand, first western country to enter OBOR network

New Zealand, first western country to enter OBOR network

New Zealand became the first Western developed country to sign an agreement with China on the Belt and Road Initiative last week. The two countries will expand a 9-year successful free-trade deal, when the two-way trade tripled from $8.2 billion in 2007 to $23 billion in 2016.

China is the second largest importer to New Zealand and third larger export, according to the data from government institution Stats NZ. The deal resulted in quadrupled annual exports to China and doubled imports from China in 2016 compared to the same period in 2007.

This time, the two countries will expand cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture and husbandry, technological innovation, education, culture, tourism and civil aviation, announced Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang.

New Zealand will be able to export chilled meat to China in a 6-month trial period. China already accepts frozen sheep and beef meat and has a huge demand for the good quality products amid food safety scandals.

“This agreement has the potential to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars for our farmers, exporters and the wider economy,” said New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay in a statement. “The upgrading will bring more opportunities for bilateral economic cooperation, and push the two sides to increase market openness and reach consensus on such areas as services, trade and e-commerce”, added Zheng.

With a population of nearly 5 million people, New Zealand is one of the top 10 highly developed countries in the world. The country ranks highly in international comparisons on human development, quality of life, life expectancy, literacy, public education, prosperity, economic freedom, ease of doing business, lack of corruption, and press freedom.

This year marks 45th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relation between New Zealand and China. The Pacific country was also the first Western developed country that recognized China’s full market-economy status when China joined the World Trade Organization. New Zealand became a founding member of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member. “We have traded more with China since the FTA entered into force in 2008 than in all our previous history, and growth is faster with China than any of our other major trading partners,” the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade said back in 2016.

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