NEW ZEALAND – China has recently eliminated tariffs, enabling New Zealand dairy products to enter its market without duties as of January 1, 2024.

This move signified the complete removal of tariffs outlined in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and New Zealand.

Notably, New Zealand, as the initial developed country to engage in an FTA with China, enhanced the agreement in January 2021, placing a specific emphasis on facilitating trade in the dairy sector.

The move is seen as a significant step in deepening economic cooperation between the two countries.

Chinese experts highlighted that this duty-free access for New Zealand dairy products showcases China’s commitment to further opening up its market, benefiting not only trusted partners but also the international market.

They viewed the development as an initial step in bilateral economic ties, anticipating further progress, including the implementation of more convenient policies for personnel exchanges and broader areas of cooperation, such as tourism and education.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay reported that all dairy products from New Zealand can now enter China duty-free, with the removal of safeguard duties on milk powder on December 31, 2023.

“The tariff elimination is expected to result in additional annual savings of approximately NZ$350 million (US$221 million) for the New Zealand dairy sector,” he said.

Additionally, he noted that China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade exceeding NZ$40 billion (US$25 billion) in 2022.

“The duty-free access for dairy products aligns with China’s approach of greater openness, aiming to welcome high-quality goods into the Chinese market and share the dividends of its market development.”

Chen Hong, the director of the New Zealand Studies Centre at East China Normal University, emphasized the complementarity of the two countries and the rising demand among Chinese consumers for high-quality dairy products.

Chen saw the tariff exemption as the first step in deepening bilateral cooperation, with expectations of expansion into other sectors and areas of collaboration.

Wang Jiazheng, chief representative of the Guangdong Economic and Trade Representative Office in New Zealand, highlighted the potential for strengthened ties in areas such as the digital economy, including e-commerce and artificial intelligence.

This move comes at a crucial time for New Zealand, with opportunities for cooperation aiding in economic recovery from the post-pandemic downturn.