New measures to facilitate Chinese travel announced

"We expressed New Zealand's interest in that being a functional positive relationship because if it isn't then it has significant political and economic impact".

The agreement to start negotiations also confirmed the commitment of both countries to open trade and economic growth. And China would like to erase a small trade deficit it runs with New Zealand by selling more of its products.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pressed for deeper trade ties with New Zealand and warned against global protectionism in a newspaper opinion piece published on Monday before meetings with Prime Minister Bill English and business leaders in Wellington.

"This will give a strong boost to trade links between China and New Zealand and it will send a positive signal to the world and to the region that our two countries are committed to free trade".

Trade Minister Todd McClay said the initial deal had the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for New Zealand's farmers, exporters and the economy.

Li plans to be in the country until Wednesday.

The climate change and environmental initiatives signed today seek to increase cooperation between the nations to meet their worldwide obligations as China starts rolling out its own emissions trading scheme, introduces joint research efforts focusing on freshwater quality, which is a major issue in China, promote sustainable fishing in the Pacific, and to create a framework for the nations to coordinate their regional aid and development efforts.

Mr English said New Zealand was going to want improved access for New Zealand products.

Li, on his first trip to New Zealand since he took office in 2013, was welcomed to Government House in Wellington by a Maori haka, a traditional dance and a cannon salute.

Trade deficit can only be solved through opening up while closing doors will result in more trade imbalances, he added.

China and New Zealand have signed a cooperation agreement on the Belt and Road initiative.

English and Li also discussed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that Beijing has been promoting as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is losing significance after the United States opted out of it.

"Officials also have the opportunity to further expand the agreement later this year if certain conditions are met".

  • Carolyn Briggs