Dr Jun Chen[1], William Zhao[2]

Recent Developments Regarding CPTPP

With the United Kingdom formally becoming a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), China has expedited its application to join the CPTPP. On one hand, the Chinese government has launched a series of diplomatic initiatives in hopes of gaining support from CPTPP member countries. On the other hand, China is proactively pushing for internal economic reforms to meet the high standards required by the CPTPP. New Zealand, as this year’s Chair of the CPTPP, maintains a longstanding positive relationship with China and also was the recipient of China’s application to join the CPTPP. How New Zealand manages China’s CPTPP application during its term this year as Chair is garnering international attention.

CPTPP, often referred to as a high-standard 21st-century free trade agreement, boasts higher entry requirements compared to other trade agreements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). CPTPP originated from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) proposed during the presidency of former US President Barack Obama. It was the economic component of the United States’ “Pivot to Asia” strategy, involving 12 countries: the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. One aim was to compete with China’s growing economic influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary mission of the TPP was to eliminate trade barriers between member countries, including tariffs, quotas, and other forms of trade protectionism. However, in 2017, after the election of President Donald Trump, the United States withdrew from the TPP, and the agreement never came into effect.

From September 2013 to September 2015, the 12 countries held more than 20 chief negotiator meetings and ministerial-level meetings, dedicating significant time and effort to the process of joining the TPP. Some countries, in particular, implemented a series of internal reform measures to meet the TPP’s high standards. The US decision to withdraw from the TPP left other countries disappointed but unwilling to let go of the agreement. Japan and New Zealand continuously mediated among the original TPP member countries, actively promoting the establishment of a new agreement based on the TPP. After three years of effort, on March 8, 2018, 11 original TPP member countries, excluding the United States, signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which formally took effect by the end of that year. New Zealand played a crucial role in the formation of this new agreement. With the addition of the United Kingdom to the CPTPP, the member countries’ total population now exceeds 500 million, accounting for approximately 14.6% of global GDP, making it one of the most influential regional free trade agreements in the world. It is considered a high-standard free trade agreement for the 21st century, encompassing both developed nations such as Japan, Australia, and Canada and emerging economies in Southeast Asia, offering member countries a vast market and future growth prospects.

Given these advantages, the CPTPP has attracted several applications and expressions of interest to apply for membership. In February 2021, the United Kingdom applied for CPTPP membership, and Japan, as the Chair of the CPTPP at the time, not only welcomed the UK’s application but also quickly included it to the CPTPP agenda for that year. In June 2021, a CPTPP committee established a working group dedicated to coordinating the UK’s application, and in September that same year, the working group held its first meeting. In March 2023, Vietnam became the last CPTPP member country to approve the UK’s accession, and in July 2023, the United Kingdom officially became a CPTPP member. From the application submission, the UK achieved formal CPTPP membership, in just two and a half years.

In contrast however, China’s application to join the CPTPP has largely remained stagnant. In September 2021, China’s Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao, submitted a formal application to the depositary, Japan, as as 2021 Chair of the CPTPP, to join the agreement. The ministers of both countries also held a phone conference to discuss the follow-up work related to China’s application. However, as of the CPTPP member countries’ ministerial meeting held in July 2023, China’s application remains in a state of suspension, with no substantive discussions among the member countries.

New Zealand’s Role as 2023 Chair

As the 2023 Chair of the CPTPP, New Zealand has held a considerable degree of autonomy in setting the agenda, including when it comes to potential member applications. However, let the writers make our stand very clearly: this article is not criticising the New Zealand negotiators for not having done so between January and now. The chair of such an international negotiation cannot move faster than the consensus among the members. There have been many meetings to thrash out the question of all the accession applications and decisions have been reached by the members on both criteria for acceptance and on the negotiating process. No chair can operate independently outside that agreed process or those criteria.

For New Zealand, dealing with China’s application to join the CPTPP poses three key questions:

First, does promoting China’s accession to the CPTPP align with New Zealand’s values in the international trade and economic arena? Given the dominance of Western developed nations among CPTPP member countries, it’s challenging to overlook the role of values, especially considering the different receptions that the UK and China have received. Therefore, New Zealand’s value orientation in the international trade and economic sphere is a critical factor in determining whether New Zealand can make a difference.

Second, does promoting China’s accession to the CPTPP serve New Zealand’s national interests? Pursuing economic benefits was the primary goal for the UK’s entry into the CPTPP. After the UK’s accession, CPTPP member countries expressed optimism about allowing non-member countries to join, believing it would benefit their economic development. New Zealand needs to carefully weigh the impact of national interests, including economic and political interests, before deciding on its next steps.

Third, can promoting China’s accession to the CPTPP enhance New Zealand’s position in global/regional economic governance? The CPTPP is a regional free trade agreement and fundamentally a mechanism for regional economic governance. The development and expansion of the CPTPP involves three layers of different types of bargaining: 1) negotiations among member countries, 2) negotiations between member countries and new applicant countries, and 3) bargaining among different interest groups within applicant countries. Given the current situation, CPTPP member countries have varying attitudes toward China’s application, so it’s worth deep consideration whether promoting China’s application will bring New Zealand diplomatic risks or rewards.

From P4 to CPTPP: New Zealand Remains a Strong Advocate for Free Trade

New Zealand is a small and open economy heavily reliant on international trade for its economic development. Therefore, New Zealand has consistently promoted global free trade to ensure its export goods and services can freely access global markets. As one of the founding members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), New Zealand played a constructive role in the formation of the WTO and has actively participated in WTO negotiation rounds. Additionally, New Zealand’s commitment to free trade policies is rooted in its unique historical context. As a member of the Commonwealth, New Zealand’s economy was highly dependent on the UK market after World War II.In 1973 however, when the UK joined the European Economic Community, New Zealand’s export trade suffered. To find new export markets, New Zealand began actively seeking free trade agreements with other countries. To date, New Zealand has signed free trade agreements with countries such as China, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. These agreements help to provide seamless market access for New Zealand’s goods and services, promoting the country’s economic development.

Beyond bilateral agreements, New Zealand has also been a pioneering force in advocating for free trade at the regional level. In 2005, New Zealand, along with Chile, Singapore, and Brunei, signed the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (P4), which served as the precursor to the TPP. New Zealand actively pushed for the expansion and deepening of P4 to create a broader free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2008, the United States announced its participation in P4 negotiations, and subsequently, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico, and Japan joined the negotiations, eventually forming the TPP. The TPP was a comprehensive, high-standard free trade agreement covering various areas, including trade, investment, labour, environment, intellectual property, and government procurement.

In 2017, when the United States withdrew from the TPP, New Zealand refused to give up on the concept and instead collaborated with countries like Japan to develop a new agreement. Throughout the CPTPP negotiations, New Zealand demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the new agreement, upholding principles of openness and transparency, and actively advocating for fair trade and environmental issues. New Zealand’s actions received high praise and approval from other member countries. From P4 to CPTPP, the world has witnessed global financial crises, various geopolitical crises, trade protectionism promoted by President Trump on a global scale, the US-China trade war, and the China-Australia relationship crisis. Despite these challenges, New Zealand has not only remained unwavering in its support for free trade but has also showcased its unique role as a small, open economy in driving free trade.

Joining the CPTPP has had a positive impact on New Zealand’s economic development, particularly in its export sector, services trade, and foreign direct investment (FDI). The combined GDP of the economies within the CPTPP is approximately USD10.6 trillion, and these economies represent the destination for 26% of New Zealand’s goods exports and 31% of services exports (as of June 2022). On one hand, the CPTPP includes three of New Zealand’s top ten trading partners: Australia, Japan, and Singapore, offering opportunities to strengthen existing trade relations. On the other hand, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Peru had not signed free trade agreements with New Zealand before the CPTPP, and statistics show that New Zealand exported over NZD5.5 billion worth of goods to these four economies annually. The formation of the CPTPP will further enhance New Zealand’s trade with these countries.

As a major exporter the significant reduction in tariffs for agricultural products, including dairy and meat products, in other member countries has increased New Zealand’s export competitiveness. Statistics show that in 2019, New Zealand’s agricultural exports increased by approximately 5% compared to the year before joining the CPTPP in 2018, demonstrating the immediate impact of the CPTPP on New Zealand’s exports. New Zealand’s services sector has also benefited from the CPTPP, as the new agreement has improved market access for New Zealand’s education, tourism, and financial services in other member countries. It has also provided more investment opportunities for New Zealand businesses, making it easier for them to invest and expand in other member countries. Over 620,000 New Zealanders working in export-related jobs directly benefit from the CPTPP.

Therefore, enhancing free trade at both regional and global levels, and expanding the breadth and depth of free trade agreements that New Zealand participates in, aligns with New Zealand’s identity as a global advocate for free trade and its value orientation. From P4 to CPTPP, welcoming new member countries has always been a goal that the New Zealand Government has strived for, and the expansion of the CPTPP is a continuation of New Zealand’s consistent principles. In this sense, promoting China’s accession to the CPTPP should undoubtedly be one of New Zealand’s top priorities as the current Chair of the agreement.

The Impact of China’s Entry into CPTPP on New Zealand’s National Interests: Transitioning from Bilateral to Multilateral, Respecting Mutual Benefit

China and New Zealand have a history of trade that is mutually beneficial. It’s also a story of two countries with different systems and cultures exploring economic cooperation mechanisms. Starting in the 19th century, New Zealand’s wool, gold, and other raw materials found their way into the Chinese market. The real breakthrough in Sino-New Zealand trade began in 1972 when the two countries formally established diplomatic relations. Since then, bilateral trade between China and New Zealand has surged. In 1973, New Zealand’s total exports to China were just NZD2 million, but by 2022, this figure had reached NZD20 billion, an increase of 10,000 times. Similarly, China’s exports to New Zealand increased from NZD3 million in 1973 to NZD18.2 billion in 2022, a 6,000-fold increase. Despite the impact of Covid-19 on trade, the foundation of cooperation between the two countries remains solid. New Zealand mainly exports dairy products, meat, wood, and fruit to China, while New Zealand’s major imports from China include electronics, clothing, furniture, and toys. The two countries have highly complementary industrial structures, with few industries in direct competition. The development of Sino-New Zealand trade has made a significant contribution to the economic growth of both nations.

Furthermore, China and New Zealand have been at the forefront of constructing free trade agreements. In 2008, they signed a free trade agreement, making it China’s first such agreement with a developed country and New Zealand’s first with an Asian nation. This agreement has had a profound impact on the trade and investment cooperation of both nations. It expanded the market space for the trade in goods and services between the two countries, resulting in a substantial increase in trade. According to estimates, the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement has saved New Zealand approximately NZD115 million in tariffs each year. In the first year after the agreement was signed, China’s exports to New Zealand increased by 23%, and New Zealand’s exports to China increased by 32%. Service trade between the two countries also saw substantial growth, particularly in the areas of tourism and education. In 2019, New Zealand earned NZD1.1 billion from Chinese tourists and NZD2.6 billion from Chinese students. New Zealand’s consulting services, engineering services, and financial services also started entering the Chinese market. Moreover, this agreement facilitated increased investment cooperation between the two nations, injecting fresh vitality into their economic development. New Zealand’s direct investment in China increased from NZD300 million in 2008 to NZD1.5 billion in 2019, while China’s direct investment in New Zealand grew from NZD100 million in 2008 to NZD6.5 billion in 2019, demonstrating the deepening investment ties between the two countries.

With the rapid development of emerging technologies like e-commerce and the reshaping of international economic and trade rules, China and New Zealand embarked on a new phase of exploration in economic cooperation. In 2019, after multiple rounds of negotiations, they upgraded their existing bilateral free trade agreement. The upgraded agreement further expanded market access between the two nations. China pledged to further open up 22 service trade sectors, including forestry, pulp, construction services, and shipping services, while New Zealand opened its markets to China in areas such as animal feed, graphene, and new energy vehicles. Additionally, the agreement accelerated China’s tariff reduction schedule for New Zealand dairy products, aiming for full tariff and quota elimination by 2024. It also strengthened trade facilitation measures, simplifying customs procedures and improving efficiency to reduce trade costs and time. A Trade Facilitation Committee was established to coordinate and resolve trade-related issues. Moreover, the upgraded agreement enhanced investment protection, ensuring fair, just, and non-discriminatory treatment for investors while providing an efficient, transparent, and fair dispute resolution mechanism for investment disputes. This agreement also included new areas such as e-commerce, environment, and labour. In e-commerce, it promotes the development of e-commerce, consumer protection, and data security and privacy. Concerning the environment and labour, the agreement stipulates that both countries must adhere to related provisions to achieve sustainable development.

In summary, the upgraded China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement represents a significant step taken by both countries to deepen economic and trade cooperation. This upgrade not only opens markets, streamlines trade procedures, and protects investments but also covers new areas such as e-commerce, environment, and labour. Many provisions in this agreement are the first of their kind to be included in a bilateral trade agreement, showcasing New Zealand’s innovative and forward-looking approach to promoting high-standard trade agreements.

New Zealand has been at the forefront of advocating for free trade agreements at bilateral, multilateral, and regional levels since becoming a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Over the past 20 years, except for periods of economic slowdown during the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand has maintained economic growth. Free trade agreements have become a crucial institutional safeguard for New Zealand’s economic growth.

Even after the UK’s accession, China’s economic size remains larger than the combined GDP of all CPTPP member states. China’s enormous market scale offers substantial economic benefits to CPTPP member countries, including New Zealand. Compared to the upgraded China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, the CPTPP is more open, with nearly 99% of products having zero tariffs From a multilateral perspective, according to a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, global income will increase from the existing USD147 billion to USD632 billion annually after China joins the CPTPP, a threefold increase. This means not only CPTPP member countries but also other nations worldwide will benefit significantly from this development. Moreover, China’s entry into the CPTPP would inject vitality into the agreement at a time when the global economy faces significant challenges, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict exacerbates geopolitical tensions, economic decoupling between the United States and China is affecting more and more countries, stagnation in WTO reform casts a shadow over the prospects for free trade, and the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic lingers. This will not only bring new hope for free trade but also demonstrate a vision of unity and cooperation among nations with different cultures, systems, and backgrounds, helping to alleviate global geopolitical tensions, creating significant positive implications for the international community. Promoting China’s entry into the CPTPP is a crucial step for New Zealand as it moves from a win-win scenario with China toward a multi-win situation with Asia-Pacific countries.

While New Zealanders might have different opinions, China’s view is that, shown from its government statements and official media’s coverage, the development of Sino-New Zealand relations has been characterized by mutual respect, accommodating each other’s core concerns, and not challenging each other’s bottom lines or redlines. Despite intensifying US-China strategic competition, New Zealand has maintained its tradition of independent diplomacy without blindly taking sides. In contrast, New Zealand’s neighbor, Australia, has followed a policy of aligning with the United States in its efforts to contain China since 2018. It has taken the lead in raising concerns about Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the origins of COVID-19, making it a leader of anti-China sentiment which caused a severe deterioration in Sino-Australian relations. With the change in leadership in Australia, it adopted a more pragmatic and friendly policy toward China, leading to an improvement in China-Australia relations. These cases illustrate that political mutual trust is the cornerstone of developing bilateral relations with China.

New Zealand’s Legacy as the 2023 Chair of CPTPP

If we consider that promoting China’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) aligns with New Zealand’s identity as a global advocate for free trade and serves its national interests, the question arises: Is it feasible for New Zealand to push forward the application process for China’s CPTPP membership during its tenure as the current Chair of CPTPP?

From the Chinese perspective, both official government statements and public sentiment clearly indicate a determination to join the CPTPP. Following China’s application for CPTPP membership, it has accelerated its reform efforts. These efforts include facilitating foreign access to its manufacturing sector, gradually opening up its services sector, reducing the negative list for foreign investment in a reasonable manner, establishing free trade pilot zones, and introducing negative lists for cross-border trade in services at the national level. According to official Chinese reports, China has already implemented certain CPTPP rules in specific pilot zones. China is diligently preparing to align its systems, from principles to institutional design, with those of the CPTPP.

Additionally, the successful experience of the United Kingdom in joining the CPTPP serves as a template for China’s accession. During the 6th meeting of the CPTPP Commission held in October 2022, member countries made it clear that the negotiation process for the UK’s accession to the CPTPP would be an important reference for future applicants. However, it’s important to note that due to significant differences in economic systems and economic size between China and the UK, a direct replication of the UK’s experience is unlikely.

From New Zealand’s perspective, pushing for China’s CPTPP membership has significant advantages. Firstly, New Zealand and China have a solid foundation for their bilateral relationship. Among developed Western countries, New Zealand stands out as one few with the long-standing and friendly relationship with China, and having achieved several firsts in China’s diplomatic history. Despite the Christchurch terrorist attacks in 2019, former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited China briefly. In June 2023, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited China, and President Xi Jinping praised New Zealand’s efforts in developing its relationship with China by describing it as “leading the way among developed countries in its relations with China.” Both sides reached a consensus on promoting regional economic integration and trade liberalization. Therefore, political trust between China and New Zealand is an essential prerequisite for New Zealand to advocate for China’s accession to the CPTPP.

Secondly, China and New Zealand have accumulated valuable institutional experience through the formation and upgrading of free trade agreements. This experience significantly reduces the negotiation complexity at the bilateral level during the CPTPP accession process. Over the course of more than ten years of cooperation, starting from the signing of the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement in 2008 to its upgrade in 2019, and participation in the formation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China and New Zealand have developed a deep understanding of each other’s demands and requirements. In a similar way, the UK’s application to join the CPTPP was positively received during Japan’s chairmanship in 2021, largely due to the bilateral free trade agreement signed in 2020.

Thirdly, as the 2023 Chair of the CPTPP, New Zealand has had a certain degree of authority in setting the agenda. As the Chair, New Zealand has the capacity to determine the CPTPP agenda. While member countries have the right to propose agenda items, the Chair has the final say in setting the agenda. During its current tenure, New Zealand has introduced new topics of interest, such as indigenous trade and economic empowerment.

Fourthly, the primary focus of the CPTPP’s work program for 2023 is facilitating the approval and accession of new members. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s public information, New Zealand has identified four main goals for its Chairmanship in 2023, including the goal of promoting the approval and accession of new members. New Zealand aims to develop efficient and equitable accession rules and processes that attract potential applicants. This highlights the importance and emphasis placed on new applicants during New Zealand’s Chairmanship.

Despite the advantages New Zealand possesses in advocating for China’s accession to the CPTPP, it’s important to acknowledge that the opinions of other member countries hold significant weight in the CPTPP accession process. The process for joining the CPTPP includes several key steps:

1. Informal communication with CPTPP member countries by economies interested in joining.

2. Establishment of a specialised working group to coordinate the applicant’s accession process, subject to the approval of the CPTPP Commission.

3. Submission of the applicant’s market access standards, including the areas they wish to open. Approval from all CPTPP member countries is required to initiate formal negotiations.

4. Negotiations are conducted in two parts: between the applicant and the working group and between the applicant and other CPTPP member countries.

5. If negotiations are successfully completed, the working group submits a written report to the CPTPP Commission. Upon approval by the Commission, the applicant enters its domestic approval process.

6. Admission as a new member country is subject to the agreement of all member countries.

The involvement of each member country at various stages of the process is crucial. Given the significant differences among member countries, New Zealand, as the 2023 Chair, faces substantial challenges. The challenges posed by geopolitical disputes are as significant as those in the economic realm.

In the past, China was excluded from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) due to the United States’ desire to isolate China within an exclusive group, as part of its strategy to gain an advantage in competition with China. This strategy aimed to create a small circle without China. With the United States withdrawal from the TPP, joining the CPTPP has become a viable optionfor China. Following extensive research and discussions spanning three years, the Chinese government submitted an application to join the CPTPP.

Based on public reports, it’s possible to gain some insight into the general attitudes of CPTPP member countries. During his visit to China in 2023, New Zealand Prime Minister Hipkins explicitly expressed support for China’s application. Most developing economies in East Asia support China’s application. However, countries like Australia, Japan, and Canada have taken a reserved stance toward China’s application and have attached certain conditions. It’s normal to have differences in interpretations of some clauses between China and certain CPTPP member countries. Negotiations are meant to address these differences. The issue at present is that, after China submitted its application, it has not entered substantive discussions for two years.

The most recent CPTPP Ministerial Meeting took place in July 2023 in Auckland. Despite the support of New Zealand and other countries, China’s application was postponed. This is clearly unusual when compared to the UK’s accession process. A possible explanation is that some CPTPP member countries, especially those with significant economic size and influence, did not agree to discuss China’s application. Several key factors come into play, including China’s strong opposition to Japan’s disposal of nuclear wastewater, the strained China-Canada relations, ongoing trade disputes between China and Australia, and China’s strong objection to Taiwan’s application for CPTPP membership. These factors all work against China’s application.

For New Zealand, considering the substantial obstacles and challenges it faces due to the divergent views of member countries, making progress on China’s application during its Chairmanship would undoubtedly be a significant achievement and a lasting legacy in the realm of foreign affairs. At the current stage however, New Zealand has not achieved significant breakthroughs during its tenure.

Of course, no application at the moment is going anywhere soon. New Zealand is not the cause or instigator of this. But no negotiation can move any faster than the pace of its slowest participant.


Currently, New Zealand has limited time left to make a substantial impact as Chair of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). On one hand, the most critical ministerial meetings during New Zealand’s Chairmanship have concluded, leaving only two high-level officials’ meetings in the end of the year. Additionally, Canada is set to assume the role of the new CPTPP Chair in 2024, and given Canada’s clear opposition to China’s CPTPP accession, the likelihood of a breakthrough for China’s application in 2024 appears minimal. On the other hand, New Zealand has also just completed an election, which will likely to influence the priority of the CPTPP in its domestic and foreign policy. While the incoming New Zealand Government is expected to continue supporting China’s application to the CPTPP, there is still an element of uncertainty.

In summary, advocating for China’s accession to the CPTPP holds significance positives for New Zealand, Asia-Pacific countries, and for China. Although New Zealand possesses unique advantages in promoting China’s CPTPP membership, this process is subject to multiple constraints, including geopolitical factors. Ultimately, the speed and depth of internal reforms within China will determine its accession to the CPTPP.

In the remaining two months of its tenure as the Chair, New Zealand should adhere to the principles of “proactivity and practical prudence” and focus on two key aspects.

First, as a developed economy, New Zealand’s relies on free trade for its economic development and prosperity. Pushing for China’s accession to the CPTPP aligns with both New Zealand’s national interests and the goals of the 2023 CPTPP, and New Zealand can seize the opportunity to continue to advance the CPTPP agenda. This will help to drive economic globalisation towards greater openness, inclusivity, fairness, balance, and mutual benefit, ultimately enhancing New Zealand’s position as an active player in the global landscape of free trade.

Second, during this period, geopolitical challenges will not cease. New Zealand should prioritise its own national interests and maintain its proud tradition of independent diplomacy, steering clear of geopolitical whirlpools. For example, as Taiwan’s application to join the CPTPP becomes a focal point in international public opinion, New Zealand should firmly uphold the “One China” policy when addressing this issue. New Zealand has maintained the same fundamental policy towards China since 1972, which acknowledges the One China policy, where China’s position is that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. As current chair of the CPTPP commission, New Zealand should maintain the policy principles of successive governments. Any support of the application from Taiwan would be contrary to this long-held policy, and without doubt would strain the relationship between New Zealand and China.

External trade accounts for as much as 60% of New Zealand’s GDP, with over 600,000 New Zealanders directly engaged in trade-related work. Emphasising the importance of international trade to New Zealand cannot be overstated. This underscores why New Zealand has staunchly supported free trade at bilateral, multilateral, and regional levels for over half a century. With reforms at the World Trade Organization (WTO) stalled, bilateral and regional trade agreements are poised to play a more significant role in international trade and investment. This is a key direction for New Zealand’s economic diplomacy in the future. Regardless of the evolving geopolitical landscape, New Zealand needs to remain focused on its own national interests, eliminating distractions, and needs to continue contributing to the path of economic globalisation and regional economic integration.

  1. Dr Jun Chen, Secretary General of NEXT Federation, Ph.D in Chinese Philosophy, former Executive Director of Research and Development International of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  2. William Zhao, Executive Chairman of the Council of NEXT Federation, First CEO of Yashili Dairy Plant in New Zealand


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